Did that little girl from Bethany that was once in her twenties wake up one day in her thirties – or forties – with a tinge of regret? Shades of loss hanging over her like a storm cloud, for the spent inheritance, poured out in a single moment of time? (Jn. 12:1-8)
Did she hear the accusations of the brothers ringing in her memory like they were yesterday and in weaker moments cower beneath their heavy shadows (Mk. 14:4)?
Was it waste? Had it been a little beyond necessary? Twenty-year-olds do such things, after all. And most look back later on, through the corridors of years, with perspective now deemed wiser – perspectives that say it was, after all, a bit excessive, though with good intentions.
The Sting of Extravagance
In her later years, did she feel the slight sting of that excessiveness (Matt. 26:8)? Perhaps she did, in weaker moments. Moments of doubt. For she had a frame like mine.
Perhaps when her peers past by her with their accumulations and prestige, she felt the pricking cost of that dramatic moment in her youth, when she broke open her future until it seeped silently into the dust. Years after that climactic moment, we can’t find her again in the storyline. She disappeared from the accounts that followed. Perhaps in some of those latter moments, when dust settled over the decades, she felt the questions – the Accuser breathing in her ear.
The Light that Pierces the Fog
Yet I know the dawning she found in those nights, the secret to removing those arrows. I know where she must have gone had she found herself in those tensions. I go there too when fog sets in. It’s always with the thought of His eyes, His heart so moved and in the remembrance of who He is that rays of light stream in. Such remembrances make godly men count all else as rubbish and longing hearts count the wealth of their whole house as “utterly despised” (Phil. 3:8; Song 8:7).
The worth of the One receiving the offering makes every sacrifice small. The remembrance of how it moved His heart beckons a thousand more such offerings. Who am I to move His heart?
Or there is the light that comes with the memory of His own sacrifice – the greatest one ever known to mankind – when the Rich One left His lofty Throne and took on poverty like a garment, joining Himself to us, bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh. And the fog lifts (2 Cor. 8:9; Eph. 5:30).
I am not extravagant. He is. I’m just responding.
And tears stream as the remembrance washes, like rain breaking open the cloud. Courage arising. That heart that was once twenty, feeling the same somehow, as though the years hadn’t come and gone, swelling again with devotion brave and unencumbered.
Sometimes we “waste” our best over Him and it seeps silently into the dust. Voices ’round tell us it was foolish and unnecessary, and sometimes – on fog-filled days and with passing years – we somewhat believe them.
Then His Voice comes in again, the Voice that clears the fog of the accusing murmurings. The Voice that speaks youth into aging souls.
It will be remembered and told as a memorial forever,” He pronounces (Matt. 26:13).
He foretells with an authority that He alone owns. His eyes peering through this whispy vapor of present pilgrimage and beyond it, on through all the eternal ages ahead, seeing her – seeming me. He beholds long past where any other eye can see, when such opportunities for extravagant faith are left behind as what was hoped for is now seen (Rom. 8:24).
Even then, the memorial remains. And He points to the wasted perfume, the spent inheritance, the poured out devotion seeping silently into the dust. And He says in essence,
When everyone forgets and even you yourself start to second-guess, I will remember. I will never forget. What they call waste, I call good. And when the day breaks and the shadows flee away, and you finally see My face, you will see the beauty and wisdom of this extravagance, remembered forever, never to be taken from your story, from your heart, or from our history (Lk. 10:42; Song 4:6). Remember this when the extravagance stings.