Our Alabaster Boxes

I grew up in America at a time when an athlete who was put on camera would wave and say, “Hi, Mom!!”  The athlete usually didn’t have a microphone, but we could lip read and see that all too familiar saying.    I kind of doubt if Mom was his athletic coach, but I am pretty sure she coached him through many difficulties.  Perhaps he needed help with his grades so he could stay on the team.    Perhaps she provided transportation to practices.    She may have been his most devoted spectator.  She washed the uniforms countless times and tried every known chemical to get the stains out.  She fed his bottomless pit of a stomach as he burned zillions of calories while playing and practicing.   When he was young, she probably bandaged his wounds and kissed his check while wiping away his tears.  She was the one who would whisper endearing words into his ear that would light up his face and encourage him to get back into the game.

So, when he faced the TV camera, he said, “Hi, Mom!”   For those of you who don’t know the deep structure of that statement, it could be translated as, “Thanks, Mom. Thanks for everything, Mom.”  


The point I am trying to make, however clumsily, (clumsiness is why I never succeeded as an athlete) is that gratitude was expressed by those two little words. “Hi, Mom!”  The athlete knew that his mother was somewhere watching and cheering on her prodigy.  He knew that she was bragging about him to others with “That’s my boy!”  

 “Thanks, Mom.”  I would like to be able to say those words to my mother again, but my mom passed away, and I can’t. 

“Thanks, Mom.”  This is such a short sentence.  Only two syllables.  With a normal speech pattern, it probably takes less than a whole second to say this.  “Thanks, Mom.”

“Thanks, Mom.”  Two little words that are so sweet to the ears of any mother. 

The words “Thank you” are sweet to the ears of anyone:  family member, friend, co-laborer, waiter, store clerk, and stranger. I try to have eye contact and express thanks to the clerks and the waiters, because  I have seen so many clerks and waiters treated badly.  I try to show appreciation to family members who have helped me as well.  I try to show that I appreciate the efforts of those at church that do things to help the church or its outreach.  As a member of the church, I realize that the operation of the church is accomplished by many who dig in and do, and thereby I directly and indirectly benefit from their efforts.  

My mom was so appreciative of a simple thank-you note.  When our boys were little, I would help them compose a handwritten note. When they were older, all I had to do was supply the card and they would do the rest.  When my mother passed, we came upon the cards and notes that she had saved.  It seemed that she had saved all of them.  I found many that came from my children.  I gave some of the cards back to my sons so that they could see that she appreciated the cards and so that they could again see their youthful handwriting. 

Having said all of this, I doubt if any of you would be surprised to learn that my life verse is: 2 Corinthians 9:15 “Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift.”    Perhaps that verse became my life verse because I was twenty-seven when I got saved, and by that time I had accumulated plenty of sins that needed to be taken care of.  I had much to be thankful for, because much had been forgiven.


Do you remember the woman with the alabaster box who was described as a sinner in Luke chapter 7?  Jesus said in Luke 7:47 that “..Her sins, which are many are forgiven: for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, (the same) loveth little.”  How did she show that she loved much?  She showed it by washing His feet with her tears and wiping them clean and dry with her hair, and then emptying an alabaster box of expensive spikenard ointment on His feet.  The dirt and grit from His dust-covered feet was mixed with her tears and now clung to the strands of her hair.  She didn’t care about this dirt, as she was very thankful.  She didn’t care about the financial cost, as she was very thankful.  She didn’t care about the humble position of washing someone’s feet, as she was very thankful.  Jesus said that her actions would be spoken of for a memorial of her.  

My mom kept the thank-you cards as a memorial of those who were grateful.  She had thank-you notes from people I never met.  She had helped people and never shared those stories with me.  I read the notes.  The cards were a memorial of how grateful those people were and of how generous my mom had been.  

The athlete’s “Hi, Mom!” is a memorial to the mother who was so giving to her child.  Everyone watching the TV saw that the mother was remembered, and was loved, and was being thanked.

But what about us?  How do we show the LORD that we are grateful?  How can we wash His feet with our tears and then anoint His feet with an alabaster box of costly ointment?

As I was pondering this, the LORD showed me that my alabaster box is my heart.  The ointment is the praise that He so deserves.  My alabaster box is full of praise, gratitude, and thanksgiving that can be poured out.  

We can be thankful for all He has done. Salvation should be enough to send us to get that alabaster box and pour out the contents, but there is so much more for which He deserves praise.  We have peace.  We have breath.  We have loved ones.  We have shelter.  We have food.  And even if we don’t currently have food or shelter, we did have; and we enjoyed it when we had it.  Chances are we will have food and shelter again.  We have also had Him interacting with the events of our days to make all things work together for good.  Why would we not want to get out our alabaster box?   The woman in the Bible had only one alabaster box that she opened and poured out on the LORD’s feet.  We have as many as we want.   We can open our alabaster boxes and pour out the ointment of praise afresh every day. 

Written by Christine Hawthorne, missionary wife in Indonesia.


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