June 20, 2021

My Empty Alabaster Box

On tour in Israel and Egypt, walking the dusty streets of Galilee and Capernaum where Jesus walked, I began my search for alabaster oil. I had no intention of looking for alabaster oil when I left my home in St Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, in those pre-COVID-19 days. But I overheard a friend asking souvenir shop owners if they had alabaster oil, and soon her quest became mine. I must have alabaster oil.

Searching for Alabaster Oil

I had been told how fragrant alabaster oil is, and how expensive. When we reached a specialty fragrance shop I was sure, this time, I would find it. I purchased other essential oils, but not the one I really wanted. Finally, in Egypt, I conceded defeat and had to be satisfied with a substitute—an alabaster box (OK, a jar), which I brought home—empty. It’s still sitting on my shelf.

I’ve looked at that jar for many weeks, months, searching for a story in its emptiness, until I found it.

I think of what may have happened just beyond the end of the biblical story’s telling in Mark 14:3-9. I imagine the disciples filing out with host Simon and other guests. But Jesus hasn’t left the room; nor has Mary. She still has her alabaster box. Empty. As it should be. For its fragrance has already been poured out. All of it. As it should be. She hasn’t held back anything from her Lord and Master and Redeemer and Savior. She’s given Him all she had. And now her alabaster box is empty.

She’s given Him all she had. And now her alabaster box is empty.

Thank you, Jesus! My box is empty too. For its fragrance has already been poured out; empty because I’ve spilled out my praises on You, dear Jesus. Now I know there’s even a blessing in empty boxes. Shouldn’t I daily refill mine with my sacrifices of praise? Yes, I should: so that I can find Jesus like Mary did, and pour my praises on Him for everything—for His love, for His gifts of family, a measure of good health, a covey of sisters with whom I share special fellowship. I have so much to thank Him for.

Your Box

You have an alabaster box too, don’t you? Is it empty? Is it full? You see now that every alabaster box you could ever have is sheer privilege and blessing and hope and joy: empty, half-empty, or filled to the max. Because if it’s full or filling up, that means blessings are coming in. And if it’s empty, that’s because you’ve poured out all your gratitude to your Lord and Master, Redeemer and Savior. There’s only holy joy and contentment, never shame, in owning your alabaster box. Go on, then, empty your praises onto His sacred and beautiful head. Wipe His feet with your tears of gratitude and joy. Then let Him fill you up again, fill your box again and again and again with uncountable blessings from His treasure house of love, so you have more praises to pour out on Him, pervading every room you ever enter or occupy with the sweetness of His presence, which is your constant blessing to a world in need of fragrance—alabaster fragrance.

Retired English teacher Annette Walwyn Michael is a member of the Central Seventh-day Adventist Church in St. Croix, United States Virgin Islands.