A woman came to [Jesus] having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table. But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste?” (Matthew 26:7–8 NKJV).
After graduating from college, I stayed in that community to serve at my church in full time ministry. It is a small, rural area full of married people, and it was not a great place for a young, single woman! Nevertheless, I obeyed the promptings of my heart, comforting myself with the thought that it would probably only be for a year, and then I could move on to bigger and better things.
Seventeen years later, I was still in that community and still single! Every year, I struggled with my decision to stay. Every year, I wondered if I had missed the boat and ruined any chance of ever marrying. But every year, I felt the same conviction to stay put. In many ways, those were wonderful years. I had wonderful friends and church family. After a while, I owned a home and traveled to beautiful countries—sometimes for ministry and sometimes for vacation. It was a very full life. But it was also very difficult, as I wondered often about the wisdom of remaining in such a small community. God’s ways, however, are higher than our ways, and His thoughts light years above our own.
In the end, when my husband walked into the church, one of the things that caught his attention was my years of service at the church! He admired me for choosing ministry over a more typical career path and living in such a small community simply because God told me to.
As you serve, you may be tempted to think that your life is being wasted. A voice inside taunts you, “You’re wasting your life!” Or people around you say with scorn, “What a waste!”
It can happen for any number of reasons:
You turn down the lucrative, prestigious job to work at small non-profit, earning a fraction of the salary. Your relatives respond, “Why this waste?”
You decide to spend your Saturdays serving at a homeless shelter. Your peers see only the fun you could be having. But your heart is not in the party scene; it’s with the poor. Friends don’t understand it, but you feel tremendous joy when you’re there. Why this waste?
You’re attractive, have a great figure and get lots of male attention, but you’ve decided to save sex for marriage. What a waste!
You’re a talented musician, but instead of pursuing a career in the rat race music world, you serve as a worship leader in your small home church. What a waste!
Instead of enjoying an early retirement and buying a sleek two-seater, you start taking in foster children, even after your own children are grown and gone. Oh my!
Ironically, to most people, if you spend your twenties and thirties in prodigal living, that is not a waste as long as you make money and land dates. But if you spend those years serving the Lord and impacting lives in relative obscurity, to them, this is a waste!
When the woman in Matthew 26 poured the expensive perfume on Jesus, Jesus didn’t think it was a waste. He thought it was a beautiful service, and He said she would be remembered and respected for it (while perhaps some of her critics would be forgotten).
Initially, many of the things God calls us to do seem like a waste. But is it waste, or is it worship? To worship means to give ourselves lavishly to the Lord, to love Him with abandon. The world, and even other Christians, might say we’re wasting our lives, our resources, our youth—but really, we’re just worshiping. We’re pouring out our lives as a fragrant offering to the King of the universe. It’s really not that strange.
As I worked at my church all those years, I heard from every possible source: You’re wasting your life. Strangers in supermarkets, college professors, pastors, saved and unsaved friends. At one point, about 80 percent of the people with whom I interacted thought I was pouring my life out on barren soil.
But I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It was there, in the serving, that I got healed of a lot of stuff and realized some of my purpose and potential, and it was there, toiling in the “fields,” that I met my Boaz.
Only Jesus knows the big picture. His ways are not our ways, and His wisdom often appears foolish. From the beginning of time, God has asked His people to trod unique paths and do unusual things. You are no exception. God doesn’t change. If He hasn’t already, He will indeed soon ask you to choose the road less traveled and to look the fool—in a job choice, relationship, financial decision, or the way you spend some of your time. Follow Him, knowing that, in the end, He will honor you.
Nicole Doyley is the author of The Wait: Encouragement for Single Women, which can be purchased from Amazon or www.ruthscompany.org.
Ms. Doyley grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and then attended Dartmouth College, where she earned a BA in English. After graduation, she continued to live in New Hampshire, serving in full-time ministry for almost twenty years. In 2006, two weeks before her fortieth birthday, she married Marvin, her long-awaited Boaz. The couple now lives in Rochester, New York, with their two sons, Isaac and Benjamin. One of her greatest passions is to encourage single women to find their destiny, pursue it and wait for God’s BEST! Like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/ruthscompany.