When You've Emptied Your Alabaster Jar

The great faith of the woman with the alabaster jar has stripped Christians of haughty religiousness for centuries. It’s inspired a whole-hearted humility, a laying down of one’s self at His feet, and begged the church to see themselves as debtors soon to be relieved of their burden. It’s beautiful, hopeful, screaming grace over our lives.

As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
— Luke 7:38

We’ve been that woman, holding out what’s precious and dear, hoping against hope for Him to draw near. We’ve thrown our best to the floor, looking on as He takes the shattered and broken pieces as though they’re gold. We’ve waited in quiet while He redeems the sharp edges and jagged corners of our dropped offering. We still; He works.

You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet.
— Luke 7:45

It’s inspiring: her love for him, her willingness to sacrifice and worship in the judgemental presence of the disciples, her unabandoned faith in the promises bestowed upon her by Christ himself. But it’s challenging, too. Drop your valuables in submission to Him. Pour out what’s greatest and trust. Spill tears and perfume and sorrows over His tired feet, wiping him with your hair, and be prepared for transformation.

We want transformation. We want to hear the beloved promise Jesus makes in Luke 7:47:

Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.

We hear words that promise us a future and we stop dead in our tracks. We take stock of our offerings and realize life’s a mess. We resolve to clean ourselves up, hoping to be worthy of alabaster-scented beauty sometime soon, while ignoring the reality that such a spotless status is impossible without Him. We carry around a shameful burden that daily reminds us of our wretchedness.

 

Until we hear him singing a lullaby over our lives. “Come to me” He croons and we resist. We resist until we can’t stand it. Then we give up. And we break. We mimic the devotion and love displayed by that woman so many years ago. We break ourselves as alabaster jars at His feet. We throw our brittle selves down at His feet and shatter. We lay shattered at the foot of a Heavenly throne, begging for a change only He can bring.

 

We lay motionless and in pieces, smelling a sweet scent, covered in a dose of calm waters, and we look up at Him. We are still -possibly for the first time. And in the quiet, we wonder if grace will miss us. We wonder what will happen now that we’ve emptied the alabaster jar and He has yet to step in? What happens to our soul as we lay here void of all hope and faith, broken under the weight of life, and begging for the grace that forgives greatly?

It feels eerily still, but He’s working. He’s slowly, tenderly gathering pieces, pulling them back together again. He’s patiently moving around us, almost imperceptibly present. But then we hear Him, quiet in His concentration, and we realize, grace has come. It’s a slow-moving grace, sprinkling lightly over our splintered edges, gaining fervency, dropping in heavier bouts. It’s pouring over us now, like blankets of rain rushing out from the gates of Heaven. And we remain still.

We are still and He delivers grace.

Amber Thomas