Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Scent of Peace

While Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, a woman approached 
Him with an alabastar jar of very expensive perfume. She poured it on His head
 as He was reclining at the table. When the disciples saw it, they were indignant. 
"Why this waste?" they asked. "This might have been sold for a great deal and 
given to the poor." Aware of this, Jesus said to them, "Why are you bothering 
this woman? She has done a noble thing for me." (Matthew 26:6-10 CSB)

I have written about the practice of Adoration that Sara Hagerty talks about on her website. She creates a calendar with a verse or verses and then a description about why it's a reason to adore God. Around lunchtime, I write out the daily verse(s) and journal something. This practice that I adopted in January has helped me refocus my attention back to Jesus and my heavenly Father at just about the time I ready to lose my mind based on any number of circumstances or unwelcomed suprises that have emerged between my quiet time and noon.

Now, I will not lie. Yesterday when I saw that the verses were Matthew 26:6-11 (although I only quoted up to 10 above), I was not thrilled. It seemed like a lot to write. I actually contemplated only writing a few of the verses, but I'm a rule follower by nature, so I wrote them all.

Let me just say this, if you have not ever written out Scripture as a practice, try it. I can't explain what happens when you see it in your own handwriting, as if you are writing it to yourself, for yourself, as a way of promoting deep soul healing, but it is quite an incredible thing. I have always loved Hebrews 4:12 that teaches us the Word is alive, but in doing this, you get a real-time experience of it. 

As I wrote out this familiar passage, I kept thinking about all the times I have heard this preached and taught. And I am a big believer that God knows us so intimately well, He'll take our circumstances,  the way He created us, and the 'quirks' in our personalities, to speak something new in what might first appear old. And so I wrote.

Now, if you know me, you know extravagance is not my bag. I might love the beautiful purses I see other people carry, but I would be entirely too freaked out to own one, knowing I'd be obsessed about it getting scratched up. Plus I have a hard time wearing new clothes simply because I am afraid I will get something on them. I generally save them for special occasions in which food is likely not a threat. (i.e. wearing something cute when I go out with my husband, but knowing we'll be home to eat and I can change first....not kidding, this is what it's like in my head)

But here's the thing, the perfume this woman poured on Jesus is flat out described as expensive. It was by all accounts an extravagant gift. And do you know what He did? He accepted it AND He allowed it to be used on Him. He didn't refuse the gift and He didn't set it aside for another time knowing it's great value. And He knew exactly what it cost her. Not just monetarily either. He knew what she gave up, the sacrifices she made in order to obtain it, and however she managed to get that money to be able to purchase it, He still accepted it. And why did she do this? Becuase in her mind, and in her heart, Jesus was worth it. Every.last.cent. 

And here's what I couldn't help but wonder: if I have such a hard time accepting gifts from others (although I have improved tremendously), how much more difficult is it for me to accept and truly use the gifts of Jesus' blood and God's grace in my life? And I'm not talking about doing what I want just because I can. Oh no. I mean actually living like the daughter He created me to be instead of the one that is still striving to be declared worth it based on my contributions because the gift is so extravagant I am afraid to use it for fear it will all disappear and there won't be more.

Ya know, several years ago about two months after my grandfather died, my mom bought me a gift with money she had received that she knew I would NEVER buy for myself. As you might have guessed, it was a bottle of pefume. Bond No. 9, The Scent of Peace. It took about 2 years to go through it because I could not bring myself to use it every day. I had to make it last as long as I could by not wasting it on the average, everyday life, of a kindergarten and preschool mom. 

And let me just say, that same mentality follows me in my relationship with Jesus. He willingly had dinner with His friends, knowing what was coming, so that we could be forgiven, and I live half the time like it is a limited gift instead of a limitless one. How is it that He who became poor and gave up heaven could accept the extravagance of one woman and I struggle to accept the extravagant gift of The One?

And here's the thing. Not only did He humbly accept her gift of poured out expensive perfume, He knew that shortly He'd be smelling that sweet, expensive perfume while He was washing other people's feet. He didn't want to save it for the right occasion, He knew the time was then and there.

As we go throughout the next couple days, let's keep our attention firmly fixed on Jesus, come what may. Whether we are feeling stuck in the mundaneness of everyday life or are confronted with things of extraordinary proportion. And maybe, just maybe, we can allow the scent of His peace to come out of the bottle we keep it in, and extravgantly let Him pour it all over us. It's a gift He not only wants to give, but He wants us to use. It might have cost Him His life, but He decided we were worth it.

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