Please Read Mary's story in John 12:1-11
Borrowed with permission from Kari Patterson at Sacred Mundane
I tiptoe in the dark, kneel down by Heidi’s bed, gather her up
into my arms, then ease into the rocking chair. Her coughing eases into
sleep as I remember these words …
Mary tiptoed into the room, quietly knelt, and broke her alabaster flask, anointing Jesus’ feet.
The cost of that flask was almost a year’s wages–equivalent to 40-50 Thousand, dollars–all contained in her flask. It was probably her dowry, her worth as a marriageable woman.
All she owned.
I would have thought the same thing.
Or, wouldn’t it have been so much smarter, to pour the oil into three
containers, use 1/3 of the money for the poor, 1/3 of the money for her
dowry, and a 1/3 of the oil use to offer to Jesus? That seems wise.
Or, she could have worshiped him with words, she could have hugged Him,
kissed Him, praised Him. Come on, I mean, really?! You have to waste
all that good money by dumping it on the floor?
But Jesus thought it was a beautiful waste. He
commends her, and then amazingly chooses to record it in Scripture, so
that this woman’s story would be told around the world for the rest of
history to know.
He thought her waste was beautiful.
Before she died at 95 my dear Aunt Lois shared these timeless words of truth:
"Nothing is Wasted"
But the important qualification for that truth is that nothing’s wasted that is given to God.
Lots is wasted. People waste their lives all the time. The woman in
the story could have dumped her alabaster flask into the trash and it
would have truly been wasted. Utterly wasted.
But “wasted” on the feet of Jesus meant that not a drop was
wasted, it was invested with the highest return–the glory of God, the
worship of Jesus, the love and praise of the Savior.
That is beautiful waste.
And the beauty of the anointing wasn’t in the value of the flask’s contents–it was in the value of the sacrifice. We know throughout Scripture, from Abraham to David to the widow with the two mites to Mary and her flask, that the value of our offering is not in what we give, but in what we give up. Yes, there is a double meaning there. What we give up is what we sacrifice, which is the true measure of our worship. And, what we give up is given upwards to God, with His glory as the intended aim.
The value of our worship is what we give up, what we waste for His sake in response to
His extravagant love for us.
What is my sacrifice? What is your sacrifice? What is our alabaster flask, what it is we can waste on his feet?
I had asked this. Waited. Asked God to show me.
The one thing He mentioned made tears slip silently down my cheek.
Giving up my time, my ambitions, my dreams, my preferences, to lay
down my life for my kids, to giving every ounce of my being to investing
in them to be Christ followers, Kingdom advancers, lovers of God. That
seems so natural, but for me it’s not. Often it’s hard. Giving time
and energy to writing and teaching God’s Word is not a sacrifice for me.
It’s fun. Thrilling. Rewarding. Studying, reading, learning,
teaching—all of those things are good and I’ll keep doing them, but they are not really a sacrifice.
A silent tear slipped down my cheek as I realized that was my
alabaster flask. How appropriate that as I prayed those words I was holding
my sick daughter upright to keep her from coughing, bouncing her softly
and letting her pat my face with her soft, doughy hands, kissing her
feverish, sweaty head.
Right there in my arms was the answer to my question.
Where is yours?
What is yours?
I’m praying for God to show me how to live this beautiful waste, how
to fight the gnawing hunger for productivity, turn the clock to the
wall, and wastefully invest in the two precious souls He’s entrusted to
my care. One of them is coughing, so I must go. Let my life be a beautiful waste, O God.