My old friend like me had served as a church pastor and then travelled regularly in a preaching ministry, but for over a year had been grounded since his wife had nearly died and was still incapacitated. As our lengthy, overdue phonecall drew to a close he asked me to ‘seek the Lord for a word for us’. And when I did so, he reminded me of the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet with very expensive unguents and of the carping disciples’ outcry: ‘What a waste!’ (See Matthew 26:6-13.) I picked up the phone to deliver this word:-
 ‘Why this waste?’ is the wrong question
One time when I felt that my own ministry had lost its cutting edge, I had set aside several days to pray and fast about it. A turning point came when one morning I read of the very gifted and fruitful Chinese apostle Watchman Nee who was given a twenty years’ prison sentence for his Christian faith by the atheistic Communist authorities– after which they still detained him as a translator until his death. Why this waste? In the foreword to his biography it mentioned another servant of God who was released and who testified to often hearing Watchman Nee singing praises to God at the top of his voice in a nearby cell. As I re-read that fact, I began to convulse with uncontrollable sobbing, and stretched face down on my bedroom floor, re-adjusting my mind set.
‘She has done something beautiful to me,’ is surely Jesus’ high definition of true worship – a perceptive expression of extravagant love. My friend’s response was instant: ‘If you were to ask my wife she would tell you how often we have asked each other that question, why this waste? over these many months. That is a very relevant and meaningful message from the Lord.’ ‘We’ll do no preaching or teaching in the age to come,’ I reminded my friend, ‘but we shall never stop praising! So we can use that as an outlet now for all the fragments of Bible meditation that we gather up and present to the Master.’
 Let nothing be lost (see John 6:12)
Why ever did Jesus, having fed thousands with a boy’s lunch and the crowd having eaten their fill, then tell his disciples, ‘Gather up the leftovers, that nothing may be lost’? Surely the lakeside birds would have scoffed every last scrap! Instead, ‘twelve baskets were filled with fragments’ (John 6:12-13) – one for each doubting disciples (verse 7)!
 I have lost none (John 6:39; 10:28-29; 17:12)
Jesus used that miracle to teach and challenge his followers about true discipleship – whereupon the admiring crowds abandoned him and only ‘the Twelve’ stayed loyally with him, yet several times in John’s Gospel he claimed he had lost none.
 Let these go (John 18:8-9)
Significantly, the final reference to this theme in John’s Gospel occurs in the context of Jesus’ arrest in Gethsemane. Even in holding us securely, he often lets us go free! When you ever sense him do that to you, choose wisely.