Cultivating the gift | Guest blogger: Samantha Balandimal

Hey gals, Danielle here! Thank you for meeting me here once again! If you are here for the first time, WELCOME! You being here is truly a blessing! So thankful to the Lord for you.

Y'ALL! SO incredibly excited to introduce my new sister in Christ, Samantha Balandimal to The Lightingale. We met a few months ago and when she told me she was a blogger, I knew I wanted to have her on here this month. She's beautiful, talented and loves Jesus like crazy! I asked Sam to share with us a woman in the Bible who inspires and encourages her and goodness, she delivered in a major way! So thankful for her. I pray her Christ-inspired words bless you as they have blessed me! 

Let's get into it! Here's Sam:

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We are officially under 30 weeks away from Christmas! I know, I know.

I. Know. 

Some of y’all are like “too soon, Sam, TOO soon!” But it’s coming and I always get so giddy about it! You know what my favorite part about Christmas is? Wrapping presents! By then the stress of finding the perfect gift has passed and let’s face it, it probably means Christmas is tomorrow! ...and don’t even act like you don’t procrastinate!

As much as I enjoy wrapping gifts, I absolutely LOVE handing my gifts over to its recipient. There’s something about picking out something for someone that you know (or hope) they’re going to love... the build-up of anticipation as they tear through the meticulously wrapped gift (this part hurts a little if you’re a bit OCD like me) is so unbearably exciting!

There’s a woman whose name is never mentioned in Luke 7:36-50. All we know about her identity is that she is a “woman of the city, who was a sinner”. Here’s Luke’s account of this story:

One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house and reclined at table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”

“A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among[a] themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

I couldn’t possibly do this passage justice in one post, so perhaps someday I’ll unpack it some more. In the meantime, here’s what I think makes this story so great, but before I go there let me address this; I fear that so often we read this story and we imagine this scene to be extravagant with background music, and joy all around, and I think in our romanticizing of what this scene would’ve been like for this mystery woman, we devalue the purity of her worship. So consider this- She washed with her tears, wiped with her hair, anointed with expensive fragrant, and kissed Jesus’ dirty-from-walking-around-in-sandals’ feet. She was in a room where she was uninvited and known as the “woman with many sins”. There was nothing “cute” or comfortable about her predicament.

Here are a few takeaways from this encounter: first off, it was entirely premeditated! I mean, homegirl straight up had someone looking out to let her know when Jesus was reclined. In addition, she came prepared with a plan. She showed up to a party she wasn’t invited to with a bottle of super expensive perfume. It’s been said that the value of the ointment in her alabaster jar could be equated to 20 months worth of wages. I’d like to think that no one leaves their house with such an amount of value on them without a plan for it. 

Secondly, she’s so overwhelmed with emotion to be in the presence of Jesus that she begins to weep uncontrollably. The word says that she wet his feet with her tears, you know how many tears you would have to cry for that? Lol. She brought a pure heart, a thankful heart, I would imagine. This is her moment, this is WHY she came, and being in the presence of Jesus was probably more than she could have prepared for or imagined. 

Third, I love the part that says that she wiped his feet with her hair. A woman’s hair during this time was her pride and joy, 1 Corinthians 11:15 even says that a woman’s hair was referred to as her glory. In other words, she wiped the feet of Jesus with her glory, her identity, her dignity, and any pride that she would have left in her.  

Lastly, we see that she kisses his feet. In fact, Jesus says “she has not ceased to kiss my feet.” This is so profound because she’s entirely unbothered, focused, and she is just so THANKFUL! She’s not reliving the disappointments of her past sin or punishing herself for them, she doesn’t seem to be worried about what else is happening around her or who is there, but rather she humbles herself and lets the forgiveness of her Savior define her position before Him while her accusers stand in the room. One commentary I came across stated this about the significance of this part, “to pour ointment on the "head" was common. To pour it on the "feet" was an act of distinguished "humility" and of attachment to the Saviour, and therefore deserved to be particularly recorded.”

This sinner woman (I just love that, because it amplifies the significance of this moment) with many sins, in one moment, one encounter, pours out all of her worship and all of her praise on Jesus. She waited for THIS moment and she went in with EVERYTHING. This story convicted me of how much I often stumble into worship. We see here a woman whose worship cost her something in every area of who she is, she doesn’t just show up and hopes for the best, she shows up for the purpose of worshipping her savior. 

I think the reason we have unstable worship “experiences” is we often worship from our emotions and circumstances, but we usually don’t think about it until the music starts. The truth is we don’t prepare our hearts for going into worship. Worship isn’t for our experience, happiness, or even holiness. We worship because we love much, we love much because we have been forgiven much (v. 47). Worship is the gift we get to prepare for, wrap and can’t wait to give to our recipient. We often think of worship as coming to receive (on a Sunday morning) from Jesus, but let me challenge you with this, worship is a gift we get to bring at any time, any moment, and certainly any place - but we can’t worship in spirit and in truth by stumbling into it and relying on whatever emotion we feel at the time.

In the other gospels, we see a similar story with Mary (Martha and Lazarus’ sister), and Jesus responded by saying, “for she has done a beautiful thing." (Matthew 26:7, Mark 14:6) Did you read that?? What the world saw as wasteful of her sacrifice, humility, resources, identity, and her dignity, He saw as BEAUTIFUL. Imagine receiving a gift from someone you love so much and it’s just absolutely and utterly beautiful. That’s what Jesus called her worship. 

May we be women committed to cultivating, growing in discipline and intentionality in our worship. He is worthy of nothing less.

You can follow along with Samantha on her blog and on Instagram.

So thankful again for Sam and her heart for the Lord! Hope y'all were blessed.

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

As always - thanks for reading,

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