The Fragrance of Surrender

Surrender – Pouring out whatever we value and hold dear at the feet of Jesus. 

John 12:1-4   NIV: Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.



This story of Mary pouring expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet and wiping them with her hair is a picture of surrender. It speaks volumes about the value she placed on her relationship with Jesus and tells us that He was foremost in her life.  After all, the perfume was worth a year’s wages.  As Mary poured out this sacrifice, the fragrance from the perfume filled the house for everyone to enjoy. 


When we lay down our lives and dreams at the feet of Jesus and allow death of self to fully engulf us, it’s like an expensive perfume poured out upon our Lord and Savior.  The fragrance from our sacrifice will follow us and fill our homes with a beautiful aroma that even reaches the throne room of our God.
In the sacrifice of “self” or the laying down of our “rights” we automatically defeat Satan’s plans for our lives birthing the fragrance of Christ to live through us and fill our homes.  It bears witness to the reality of Christ in us as we die to ourselves. 

It’s easy to hold tight to the things we value deeply; our homes and belongings, something we long for; our reputation or even our children. But as we surrender these things that are precious to us, it blesses our Lord and the fragrance that results will permeate everything we do.

Judas, rather than seeing value in this act of adoration, only saw value in the bottle of perfume and criticized Mary for the waste because it could have been sold to feed the poor.  His comment is logical and actually makes good sense but reminds me of how the “wisdom” of the world frequently contradicts the ways of the Lord.  Many times when we surrender and die to ourselves in our circumstances, the view of the world may tell us that we are foolish and illogical.  That same worldly “wisdom” robs God of the glory he is due and robs us of Godly wisdom and insight found only at the feet of the Lord. 

When I am facing a trial I don’t want to run first and foremost to the advice and logic of the world.  First, I must get down on my knees, pray, and die to myself and wipe His feet with a sacrifice of my will and my apparent well-being.   I cannot panic for an immediate answer but I must wait on the Lord.  God’s wisdom will direct me as I seek Him and the sweet fragrance of the Lord will fill me and my surroundings – in this, great trials are won.

God‘s ways and plans are usually not the ways of worldly logic or worldly rights.  Instead, His logic comes straight from the creator of all things, the One that knows the beginning from the end.  His ways move mountains and change lives forever if we will only get out of the way and allow Him to work through us.


By Rhonda Shelford Jansen

BEAUTY FOR ASHES

The joys of marriage bliss are great
but constant trouble turns love to hate.      
Where do we turn when weighted down
When hurt and pressures do abound?                                                    
In our saviors arms we will find rest
Renewal of hope and peace thats best 
He’ll lift you up and turn you round
And give you joy like never found.  


Over the years my husband and I experienced many tough times in our marriage.  When the trouble first started I fervently prayed with unshakable faith and believed that things would change.  However, as the years wore on and change was slow in coming, I grew weary of waiting and all the things I prayed for seemed little more than a distant and unattainable dream.   Discouragement was sucking the life out of whatever hope remained in my heart and bitterness blossomed where love had once lived. 


There was nothing in the natural that could promise me change; there was no quick fix and no easy solution.   As hopelessness grew, my desire to pray waned and bitterness grew more.  One afternoon the Lord spoke to me and reminded me that the enemy was trying to reply history in my life.  You see, my own mom had struggled with depression due to marriage problems and now it was happening to me.  The thought struck me with terror because I had watched my vibrant mother become withdrawn and broken with her gifts and talents completely shut down.  Right then, from a very dark place I cried out to God to break the cycle of depression and I bound the enemy from replaying destructive family history in my life.  I practically yelled and said “You will not destroy me; you will not cause depression and its lies to prosper in my heart.  By the strength of the lord and in the name of Jesus I will be a new example for my kids, I will start a new pattern of victory! I rebuke you Satan and your lies; I bind the spirit of depression and hopelessness from me now, in the name of Jesus Christ.  You have no authority over me and my savior has good plans for me, plans to prosper me, plans for hope and a future.”   That day, I rose up in hope and became aware that God wants to give us beauty for ashes but the enemy wants to destroy us in our problems, and he will if we let him.  That wasn’t the last time  Satan has tested the soil of my heart with hopelessness but the Lord has opened my eyes each time and as I reach for Him like a drowning man, He pulls me out. 


There is a joy available in all of our troubles and it is deep.  It is found in our complete submission before God and our awareness that the enemy is waiting for a chance to pounce.  It is also found by releasing our control when things go wrong and by viewing life and whatever it hands us, through the scope of eternity. Each time I hit that place of complete surrender I make better decisions, I deal better in my marriage, and am a far better example to my children.  As in most of life’s challenges it’s not easy to stay in that place of surrender and joy.  Some new problem arises and uncovers old wounds and the process starts all over again.  Before I realize it, in through the floodgate comes the justified anger and bitterness; the judgment and hard heart, and finally my straining to control outcomes; all of which lead me right back to the face of depression.  But when I listen, the Holy Spirit speaks to my troubled heart and I fall on my face before God; letting go of what I want and submitting my heart to the Lord.  His joy and hope flows deep into my heart and once again I am refreshed to pray and to face the trials of life. 


I have learned that we are in control of absolutely nothing in this life…except our own behavior.  The rest is up to God.  If we seek him, he will give us wisdom regarding what we should and shouldn’t do in the midst marriage issues and other problems. God specializes in taking beauty from ashes and we can be assured that He we will do that for each of us if we will surrender our desires and place our hope in Him instead of the things we desire in this world. 


By Rhonda Shelford Jansen