Last year was the year to be steadfast—firm in belief and determination—which took supernatural strength when I discovered my book would go out of print, the ministry I was involved with would close its doors, and my little sister would pass away. Grief took over for a very unexpected, sorrow-filled season but steadfast in my firm belief of God’s goodness I stood in a difficult season of stillness.
When I felt the word revision drop into my heart for this year, I became excited, considering my prayers were for a revision of The ABC Book. However, my excitement was short-lived when I began to sense He wasn’t talking about the book. While that may be part of it, I had a suspicion the Lord was more interested in revising…me. Uh oh. Here we go again. One set of revisions on Kolleen lasted about two years and I spent a majority of that time reduced to a puddle of tears as He pinpointed deep areas in need of change.
It’s easy to recognize your need for change when you simply can’t imagine one more day of the old. But what happens when you’ve become comfortable? (Which I am.) When life is likeable? (Which it is.) Since revision is defined as “a change or a set of changes that corrects or improves something: a new version of something” my hope was the revision wouldn’t be quite as tearful as in the past. Perhaps just a little adjustment to my attitude – I could understand that – so I hit the prayer road running. Show me what you’ve got for me, Lord! Let the revision begin!
He agreed and I found myself revisiting the story Luke shared about the woman who became so desperate for a revision in her life she broke all of the customary laws for her moment with Jesus. We are never introduced to her by name but different translations reveal who she was in the community: a bad woman, especially wicked sinner, an immoral woman, the prostitute and the notorious sinner. The last one gets me every time I read it – she was well known and famous for her sin. There’s nothing like a reputation to hold you hostage, is there? Especially in a small town. She would get the stink eye and cold shoulder for sure from the other women in town. I can only imagine how many times her name would be found trending on social media today. (But that’s for another post.)
Her reputation was ruined, her life was broken by prostitution, and just as I began to think, I don’t know what it is like to be a prostitute, Lord. I can’t relate to her brokenness in this way, I was reminded that He often described the Israelites as prostitutes. I felt the sting of tears when I read, “… a spirit of prostitution has led them astray [morally and spiritually], and they have played the prostitute, withdrawing themselves from their God” (Hosea 4:12, AMP). A spirit of prostitution causes us to withdraw from God and leads us astray when we give ourselves to other lovers.
Talk about a divine moment; talk about a take-your-breath-away-in-conviction moment. Is it possible I have been led astray by secret lovers which have caused me to withdraw from God? Have I been found guilty of allowing myself to play the prostitute by permitting idols to fill the place reserved for Him? Idols such as...
Comfort? Discomfort? Dreams? Fear? Busyness? Laziness? Rebellion? Impatience? People? Oh, my. I can see now...
Every time the Israelites gave themselves to the idols of other nations, God called them out for their sin of prostitution. Have you been led astray by an idol in your life? Could it be: Fear? Addiction? A Grudge? Money? Anger? Perhaps, People and Politics? Remember revision corrects to make us aware of our secret lovers that would lead us astray.
When this woman found out Jesus was reclining at the table in the Pharisees home – grabbing her alabaster jar – she went too. I find her bravery commendable. While it was acceptable for uninvited guests to come and listen to a Rabbi teach in a home, she would not have been invited, nor would she be welcomed. In fact, she scandalized Simon the Pharisee when she entered his home because no woman of such immoral standing would have been welcome there. I admire anyone brave enough to show up to that party uninvited and unwelcome.
Can you imagine the looks as she made her way into the room towards Jesus? I’m sure every set of Pharisee eyes fell upon her. It’s risky to expose brokenness but when you’ve reached the point of desperation you tend to forget what others think and finally do what’s best for you. Regardless of what others think or might say.
Perhaps she had heard of the invitation Jesus offered when He said to the people, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” (Matthew 11:28-30, MSG).
Her need to live freely and lightly was great. Just as great as mine when I allow the spirit of prostitution to cause approval addiction to lead me astray.The fear of what others will think can cause us to withdraw from God and lead us astray as we seek to please man instead of God. I can see how...
Letting go of the opinion of others can improve the quality of your life and the quality of your relationship with Christ. Revision improves our life when we refuse to be led astray by the words of others.
The story continues that as she was, “standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began wetting His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head, and [respectfully] kissed His feet [as an act signifying both affection and submission] and anointed them with the perfume” (Luke 7:38, AMP).
When she broke open her alabaster jar—the jar possessing a year’s worth of wages—I imagine much more than costly perfume poured out. I believe what was locked up inside of her came pouring out at that moment, too. Perhaps flowing from within her were…
making this the reason her tears were so great. I can't help but believe sitting at the feet of Jesus, openly pouring out your slander and scars would produce an abundance of tears. Cleansing tears. Freeing tears. The only way she would be free to live the life she was searching for—the life God intended for her to live—was to leave her life of prostitution. I believe God might just be reminding me of the same thing: Life becomes as He intended when I walk away from the spirit of prostitution and no longer allow myself to be led astray by the cares of this world.
This was a woman ready for revision. She was ready for Jesus to change her, to improve her and to see her – not for her sin but for her who she was. And when Jesus turned to her and said, “Your sins are forgiven. Your faith [in Me] has saved you; go in peace [free from the distress experienced because of sin]” I believe she left with what she came for (Luke 7:48 & 50, AMP). I believe she walked out of that room a completely different woman than when she walked in. Now I can see...
Revision makes new.
As I allow the Lord to change my identity – one letter at a time – I too, am ready for a year of revision. I expect it will be a year of correction and improvement but in the end He will have made something new.