Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus' feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. John 12:3 (NIV)
On my fortieth birthday, I was scheduled for surgery to remove a large tumor growing in my left eye socket. The day before the operation, as I was scrambling to tie up loose ends at work, I got a phone call: "We need you right away in the conference room to finish writing up the Management Briefing."
To my great surprise, as I elbowed the conference room door open with an armload of bulging files, I was greeted by a standing-room-only crowd shouting, "Happy birthday!" My co-workers had orchestrated a lavish lunch buffet and now showered me with presents.
I received a mug with my name on it, a robe and slippers to take to the hospital, and many other "I love you" gifts. And then I got a totally frivolous presentan autograph dog, just like the one a childhood friend had received when she was ten and had her tonsils taken out. When we played jacks in her bedroom, I'd often pick it up and study all those scribbles, wondering what it would be like to be the recipient of so many get-well wishes.
There was no escaping the major surgery that was ahead of me the very next day. Yet for a blessed one-hour reprieve, I didn't have to dwell on the surgery, the pain and the possible complications; I could simply bask in the extravagant love of my friends.
Lord, help me always to give with abandon.