Do you remember Christmas morning, when there were several gifts under the tree and you were not sure which one to choose to open first? That has been what it has been like with writing. The Lord has given so many gifts lately and I could not decide which to write about first. As with anything, some are just between Him and I, but others can be shared. I have sorta spread them out before the Lord and waited.
There have been sweet birthday gifts from friends, precious time with family and specific prayers answered. How do you begin to write about the goodness of God? How do you type into words how much He loves us? He shows us everyday if we have a heart to see. I will confess that I have not always had this type of vision. Praise God, those days are gone! My heart is now open wide and it makes seeing, giving and receiving love that much richer. It is the kind of lasting love. This kind of love, expressed in so many ways, does not seek the next thing to be sustained. It is a constant and brings such peace. I love these words, “For our hearts rejoice in Him because we trust in His holy name.” (Psalm 33:21). What a gift it is to trust His love for me as I go about this life.
I will tell you about one of the gifts that came about in some unlikely boxes. I was searching for old books that I could rip the pages out of for an art project. My husband remembered a few unpacked boxes in the top of our closet that might have books. Might I add that we have been in our home for 10 years. There were lots of treasures, but no books. One of the boxes had a few makeup bags full of expensive products. They were like new and I could have used them all those years ago. However, they sat on a shelf unopened and unused. The only thing I could do now was throw them away. It made me so sad to have wasted so much money and it reminded me of what use to be so important. Image was a big deal back then and it was costly. I still like and wear makeup, but I know where my lasting beauty comes from. The light of Christ’s love cannot be packaged and sold.
Can I tell you what was also in this box? Several bottles of wonderful smelling perfume. Again, they sat unopened and unused in a dark box. These however are still usable. I was so excited to have new smells to wear! They were just waiting to be opened this whole time. I am reminded of one of my most favorite stories where perfume is significant in the Bible. “And a woman in the town who was a sinner found out that Jesus was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house. She brought an alabaster jar of perfume and stood behind Him at His feet, weeping, and began to wash His feet with her tears. She wiped His feet with her hair, kissing them and anointing them with the perfume.” (Luke 7:37-38). Can you imagine what an entire jar of spilled perfume must have smelled like? How it must have filled the room with a wonderful fragrance.
My perfume does not compare, but I would like to think it smells good. I remember hugging a friend and her perfume clung to me. Did the same happen to Jesus with this extravagant anointing? The financial cost was great, but what love she poured out. Do we do the same? Do we keep our love for others and our Savior in unopened, nicely contained boxes, high on a shelf? What would happen if you trusted the Lord and opened the box of your heart to His love? I can only tell you my experience. Love poured out from the heart of God is like nothing I have ever known and it changes everything.
Want to hear something about other gifts? A dear friend, who recently lost her husband, gave me a new makeup bag with my favorite mascara and the best pink lipstick I have ever worn. She also put a heart-shaped mirror in the bag. Such kindness extended even while she is grieving. I was so touched and had to marvel at the significance of what I had thrown away and what I was given. Another friend filled a bag with gifts my mom would have given me, even down to the fall scents she chose. How did she know? Only the Lord. My in-laws gave me their airline points and I flew first class back to North Carolina for a family wedding. I had a ball with my dad, sister and family. How generous of them! My husband and kids were so fun to celebrate with and did without me for a weekend. I am blessed with the most unselfish man who loves and serves others well. This too has been a gift for almost 20 years.
I know at times it feels like the Lord is emptying us of all we hold dear. Some of the things need not remain, but some are removed and we do not know the reason now. I have found that being like an empty box, rid of self and desperately wanting to be filled with all the Lord wants to pour in, is far better than anything I could purchase or obtain. I do pray though, that anything I can pour out as an offering from my heart will bless the Lord like this sinful woman, for we are much alike. And as this next scripture reminds us, others can catch a whiff of Christ from us. “For to God we are the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” (2 Corinthians 2:15). Someone will recognize the “smell”, some will become angry and some won’t know quite what to do. All of this is known by God and we can trust Him. I have a feeling this is what love smells like.
*Picture with my Aunt Debbie who is quite a gift.