Tuesday, April 3

Beautiful Waste

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.

Broken, poured out, wasted on Jesus’ feet of all things.  The disciples, very logically and wisely, insisted there would certainly be a better use of those resources than dumping $50,000 on Jesus’ feet!

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.

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