“While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.” (Matthew 26:6)
There are times in life when you need to be lifted up – to be encouraged and you may not even know it. But God knows. Sometimes, he sends people or events your way that are like a ray of pure sunshine breaking through on a cloudy day. Someone may do or say something uncommonly nice. Something completely inexplicable will happen that makes you smile. God sends these moments for no other reason than to brighten your day. When I see that brightest ray of sunshine, I call it a “God smile.” I mentally picture the sun shining down on me, kissing my upraised face, warming my body and spirit. I’m grateful for these moments when God shows his love in an almost tangible way and it fortifies me. It’s God’s way of saying, “I just want you to know – this is how precious you are to me!”
When the woman anointed Jesus with the costly oil, she didn’t know the significance of her actions. She just wanted to show her love and appreciation for Jesus. She felt like he was more precious than the most expensive perfumed oil – which was nothing compared to his worth. She only meant to show him how much he meant to her. What she didn’t know was that her actions would be recorded and that she would be forever remembered as the woman who prepared Jesus for his burial. God used her to bless Jesus in a tangible way. It was similar to when the Holy Spirit appeared in the form of a dove at Jesus’ baptism. That was a very public act, placing God’s seal of approval on Jesus’ ministry as a voice from heaven declared, “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.” But this anointing was a private declaration, a private moment between The Father and The Son, meant to fortify him for the ordeal which lay ahead. It conveyed the message, privately, “I know what you’re about to go through and I just want to bless you.” It was a special gift and may even have been a bit of a surprise. I like to think that was a God smile moment.
“I think it piss God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it. People think pleasing God is all God care about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.” Shug Avery in The Color Purple, by Alice Walker.
One day, I went on a field trip with my daughter’s class to the pumpkin patch. I drove my own car and had to catch up with the group. They were headed into the chicken coop, right off to the side of a large paddock where the horses were kept. As I made my way over, a horse on the other side of the enclosure saw me and made a beeline for me. As he drew closer to me, and I, to the chicken coop, I realized that I would not be able to avoid meeting this huge creature. I love horses, in theory, but in reality, their head is like the length of my torso with a mouth large enough to take a chunk out of my arm. So, while I was drawn to the fantasy, I was put off by his size. He (I’m assuming) seemed gentle enough and hung his head over the fence, as if to say, pet me. I thought, “Wow – cool.” and wondered if God ordered him to greet me. Maybe that seems a bit fanciful but I have to admit, it did occur to me. Still, I took one look at the big head blocking my path and knew I didn’t have the nerve to approach him. I looked him in the eye and told him: “I need you to go back to the other side. I don’t want to play today.” He looked up as if to say “Really?” Go, I said and pointed; he seemed to shrug and walked back to the other side. It was a funny encounter and, like I said, it made me wonder. Would God do that just because he knew it would please me?
When my son was younger, he was a Pokémon fanatic. He loved the series and the trading cards. So when the movie came out, I had to take my kids to see it. As we’re sitting in the theater watching the opening scenes, I saw all kinds of creatures in various colors. Some were funny looking, some were beautiful, but all were interesting. I thought to myself, “Why so many?” And then I answered myself, “To appeal to the children – just to make them smile.” It occurred to me then – that’s what God had in mind when he created our world. It’s why we have plant life in so many forms, edible, inedible; above ground and underwater. He made various animals – some weird and some majestic – and gave us an insatiable curiosity to (hopefully) appreciate them. Some of his creations serve a real purpose and some serve no other purpose than just to make us say “Oh! Wow!” It’s the same reaction I hope to get from my own children when I do something nice for them.
His efforts didn’t stop at creation. He continues to create opportunities to show us how much he cares. I love it when he does something “just because,” making me stop and acknowledge His effort to please me. I realize at that moment, he just showed me he loves me. Or, gave me roses. Maybe even, blew me a kiss. And it makes me feel treasured. There is a sweet story about a little girl who was walking home through a thunderstorm. But she wasn’t afraid. Every time the lightening would flash, she would stop and smile because she thought God was taking her picture! That story makes me recall my own moments when I appreciate something He has done. That’s when I smile at God and He smiles right back at me.