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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Anointed with myrrh - really?

Imagine being a young woman, orphaned as a young child, taken in by your cousin to be reared after your parents' death.  You find yourself living in a strange land as a foreigner to the region, your family has been taken from you, and now you find yourself living in a "single parent" home.  Not the life every young girl dreams of, huh?  Then one day, a decree requires you to leave the comfort of the only "home" you really knew.  Taken from your place of comfort, you are ushered into a great harem of others being prepared for the pleasure of the king of the land.  Months of preparation will be required, but in the end, your very life will totally rotate around the king's command.  Esther finds herself alone, at the mercy of the head of the king's harem, and totally uncertain of her future.  Yet, in this story of Esther, I found a little nougat of hope:


When it was Esther's turn to go to the king (Esther the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had adopted her as his daughter), she asked for nothing other than what Hegai, the king's eunuch in charge of the harem, had recommended. Esther, just as she was, won the admiration of everyone who saw her.  (Esther 2:15 The Message)


Hegai, the one the king had placed in charge of "readying" his harem, sees something of supreme "worth" in Esther.  He spends one year preparing her for the moment of her introduction - the moment of her unveiling.  Six months of myrrh, six months of perfumes and cosmetics.  


The thing which caught my eye was the preparation with myrrh - for six months!  Have you ever seen myrrh?  It comes from a tree which is thorny and grows in the dry, stony soil of the Middle East.  The first part of her preparation is taken from a tree of thorns!  Do you know how myrrh is formed?  From the tree being pierced!  As the penetration of the bark occurs, the sapwood is allowed to "bleed".  The thing which emerges is what we have come to know as myrrh - the very "life-blood" of the tree.  


In Eastern medicine, myrrh is considered a "blood-moving" treatment.  It is often used to heal the conditions of "stagnancy" in the blood.  In our Western medicine, we find myrrh in simple things like toothpaste, mouthwash, and some balms for healing our many "boo-boos".  It has an "analgesic" effect - helping to deal with pain.


Esther is treated with myrrh for six months.  She has been through her own places of "hard, rocky soil" in her life - losing her parents, being raised in a single-parent home, taken into captivity in a foreign land, and now prepared for some purpose she just does not fully realize.  Imagine the condition of her heart.  She is but a teenager - alone, frightened, taken into the harem of a foreign king.  Another round of "hard soil"!  Yet, it was from the "richness" of the hard soil she comes to be anointed for service!


We often wonder about the course God allows in getting us to the place where he wants us, don't we?  It may seem like a whole lot of "hard, rocky soil", right?  Yet, in the midst of the rocks grows a tree (the cross)!  Complete with thorns of its own (Christ's crown).  From the life-blood of this tree, we are anointed!  It is this anointing, repeated over and over again, which prepares us for service to the king!


It is never an easy process to be in the place of "preparation", but when the unveiling comes, what a glorious site to behold!  From the thorns richness has come - from the anointing something beautiful is produced.  The life-blood of the tree becomes the very thing which heals and rejuvenates us!  Glory!  Anoint on God!  Make us a thing of beauty!  A thing of pleasure just for your enjoyment!