Friday, 6 June 2014

A Holy Waste

Mary, breaking her precious alabaster - did she count the cost? Did it seem waste to her who gave, or did she know what it was for? 

We love things that can be counted, measured, assessed. It is not hard to give ourselves and our heart's deep treasures for what we can calculate, because this matches what we know from the world around us. Give to receive. It need not be selfish. We can invoke the social good and admit the value even of Jesus' command to help the poor. And this kind of investment is not wrong. It is wise. Give up the short-term, the precious now, for the much more precious future.

But this is not sacrifice. Sacrifice gives up. Not to receive. Not to accomplish. It gives to express - love, adoration, worship. It empties itself, not hoping for a result, but hoping in the One to whom it gives. It seeks not fruit, but honour.

I have questioned the meaning in my life, with all its seeming aimlessness and complicated hurts. I have searched in vain for fruit enough to make the cost worthwhile. I have questioned the wisdom of my investments, and I have raised to heaven in bewilderment my empty hands. What do I have to show for my years, my tears, my heart-cries? For what do I live and work and push myself onward and pour myself out? The hiss is loud in my ears: Why this waste? Surely it might have been sold and given to the poor...

A lie from the father of lies. Jesus has not come to tell us how to live. He has become our reason for living. He is the purpose and the goal and the deep meaning in it all. He has asked us, not only to work to serve and to achieve, but to offer ourselves as living sacrifices, poured out to him. This flies in the face of human accounting. It overturns the tables and does violence to all within us that would make merchandise of Jesus and the worship we offer him. It turns out the moneychangers in the temple that is us. Such a life is not a failed investment; it is a holy waste.

I have been taken captive by lies. I have lived in fear and raised idols to combat that fear, but my weakness and bondage is increased. I am sometimes overcome with shame and dread. I have come so far and learned so little. I don't know what my place is, and I am often discouraged.

Our opposition is more in us than outside. In this world, we must fight for truth. The lies we believe cannot separate us from the love of God; they can't change the good God has planned for us - but they can obscure our thinking. They rob us of peace. They keep us from gratitude and fellowship and joy. 

Father, give me eyes to see the real value of things. Shine your truth into my life, and let it destroy the power of lies. Un-blind me, and let me run for you, and love you, and find my freedom and my place in you. Let me give my life, not as an investment, but as a sacrifice to you, a holy waste, for the honour of your Name.