When I read scripture, I want to fully experience it with all my senses. The only way for me to do this is to immerse myself into the setting within my imagination. I play it over and over in my head each time playing a different character. This way I can hear, see, touch, taste, feel, and smell what I believe they each encountered. I can flow from the deepest agony to the fullest joy when experiencing the Word of God.
It is not often that I get to have these imaginations play out in real life. But this story from my journal is one of those times. I can’t imagine how you can experience it with me as you read this blog but I hope it inspires you to go, find a rose, and breathe deeply for the fragrance of heaven.
If I could go back in time to be any woman of the Gospels, I would choose Mary of the Mary and Martha sisterhood. Only because the three times we see Mary in the Word she is at the feet of Jesus. That is where I would want to be.
Often in my retreats I reenact Mary’s anointing Jesus’ feet just before His arrest and crucifixion. Jesus and His disciples were in her home. She was not going to miss a word that came from His mouth. So once again she angered Martha by not helping in the kitchen. She scurried past the kitchen door quickly enough to not alert Martha to her plan. Her hands were trembling. She clutched her most valuable possession against her pounding chest. Mary knew what the others could not accept. This may be the last time she sees Jesus alive. She had to do this now. There may not be a later.
Pausing at the door to where the men are meeting, she faltered. Her reputation is at risk if she carries through with her plan. Women are not allowed in the company of men. What if they misinterpret her intentions? In her hands is her dowry. If she does this now, she may never have a chance at marriage. Is He worth it?
At that moment there was a roar of men’s laughter and then, there it was. His voice. Jesus was speaking and the music of His words musters her courage. She quietly stepped through the entrance and made contact with His eyes. They drew her to Him as she weaved among the startled men. She dropped to her knees at His feet. Her hands break open the alabaster jar. Sweet aroma filled the room as she caressed His feet. Feeling no shame or rejection, she then let down her hair. His eyes silenced all the accusations from the men. Gently she dried His feet. Her worship was complete. Her beloved Bridegroom was ready.
I share this story to teach the vulnerability of true worship. As I tell the story of a woman’s heart bursting with love, giving her most cherished possession, and defying the traditions of the day, I am walking among the audience spreading fragrant oil I have just poured from my alabaster jar. I tremble every time.
But at one retreat things didn’t go as planned. Just minutes before I was to go on stage, I poured oil into the jar. But the oil had aged and had no aroma. My heart nearly stopped. How could I make my point without the aroma? I was miles from a store. The prayer team was on their way to pray for me. The session was about to start. I felt trapped.
I dropped to my knees and heard Him say, “Trust Me.” So I replied with the following prayer, “Jesus, if You are there in that room tonight then fill it with Your fragrance from heaven. If not, then it won’t matter what I say or do. Without You, everything is worthless.”
When I came to the place in the lesson where I open the jar nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to experience. As I began to pour the oil into my hands, the most enticing aroma began to fill the room. I could hear the ladies murmuring as I spread it around the room hand-to-hand. “What is that? How beautiful.”
By the time I made it back to the microphone, I was trembling from head to toe. I began to tell them what had just happened. He had turned the scentless oil into the most delirious of aromas I had ever known. As I fell to my knees on the stage all I could say was, “Ladies, He is here.”
After Mary’s anointing, Jesus went on to be arrested, scourged, and crucified for you and me. He carried the fragrance of her worship on Him through it all. But what delights my heart is that Mary carried that same fragrance. They shared an intimacy no one else would know.
That night in that worship center I too shared in their intimacy. I experienced the Fragrance of Heaven and it is beyond words. Some sweet day I will once again step into His Fragrance. At that time I will be like Mary and will be drawn by His eyes and will fall at His feet.
Until then, let us all breathe deep into His Word, shatter all comfort zones, give all we possess and worship Him. He deserves nothing less.