Extravagant Love and the Hardened Heart

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"Melissa, there is someone here with flowers for you".

I could tell by the way that my co-worker spoke that he wanted me to be a bit worried by this fact.  Honestly, I was.  I work at a mission, and we have a men's recovery program.  I was desperately hoping that this was not an inappropriate gift that would require a conversation.

When Lillian* entered the room carrying a dozen roses, I breathed a sigh of relief.  But even before the sigh had exited my lips I found myself confused. For me? Why? What have I done to deserve this?  I didn't ask these questions, of course, because Lillian was glowing as she said "I bought these for you, these are for you, I got them for you". I, in a state of shock, just replied with the standard "thank you, they are beautiful, thank you so much, how thoughtful". My words were not trite, the flowers were beautiful and it was thoughtful.

The neighbourhood I work in is populated with a higher than average number of people struggling with homelessness, addiction, poverty and mental illness.  Lillian is not immune to these things.   But here she was, on cheque day - the one day of the month where those on various forms of government assistance receive their funds - giving me a dozen roses.  I couldn't understand why she didn't save her funds, and use it for the things she needed herself.  This gift was so... unnecessary.

Then I found myself thinking about the perfume that Mary poured on Jesus' feet before his burial. (John 12).  Actually, I found myself thinking more about Judas' reaction - and how he thought that it was a waste of money to have that perfume poured out. I realized that Lillian's gift to me was an extravagent one -  and it came from a desire to love and show love that had been planted in her.  It grew and now it was flowing freely from her.  Her kindness, her generosity, her glee at giving the gift all reminded me again of how lavish the love of Christ is for us.  And my hard, judgmental heart was soften by her unanticipated action.

As Deacons we are called to acts of mercy. We are called to show others that Christians live by the Spirit of the kingdom, fervently desiring to give life the shape of things to come. In word and deed we are to demonstrate Christ's care.

Lillian reminded me again of what it means to live the kingdom now.  Sometimes it seems like foolishness, but to pursue the true, free, real life, the life that mirror's Christ's and to relish the smallest of moments when we see that light does overcome the darkness - that is what we are invited to day after day.  And when I remembered that, all I could do was smile as my heart was overwhelmed with gratitude and the scent of roses filled the room.

Have you ever received an unexpected gift like this?

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