Today I was pondering the idea of "extravagance" ... showing people you care, even in small ways, can truly make a difference. We usually don't have enough hours in a day to do things up BIG. I'm not saying I'm good at going beyond my "duty" or the smaller things that people should expect, to really FULLY and GRACIOUSLY show love .... but I applaud and notice it when someone does acts of extravagance-- I think this reflects the character of God-- his love, his mercy, his forgiveness, his kindness, his generosity, his "attention to detail."
What about when we really "go for it" and mirror the profound depths and breadth of God's love-- by going out of our way for someone... Doing something that normally is not "necessary." Beyond our duty. Not playing it safe. We could even "waste" perfume (like the woman who anointed the feet of Jesus).
- a kind word said in passing is lovely & can hit the spot -- but what about if you mailed a super, creative card with 10 lines of encouragement? extravagance.
- the value of a gift does not matter. We say: "it's the thought that counts." But what about if you gave a really generous gift (monetarily speaking, if you have the funds)? Or one that showed you had to plan to get it more than a couple of hours ahead? extravagance.
- it's truly nice to send a text message, just to show someone they were on your mind! - What about if you offered to skype, and give the gift of extravagant time? (Hmmm... after all, it's not that convenient, is it?) Or take them to dinner and coffee for a few hours? extravagance.
- asking "is there anything I can do to help?" is a gracious offer. How about the next time asking probing questions or observing this friend's life, and noticing something they need-- then meeting that need in a timely fashion?! extravagance.
Whether it be words, gifts, time or acts of service -- I think God really smiles when we sacrifice and imitate Jesus.
"Greater love has no-one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." - John 15:13
My bike has been in the basement "out of commission" because I don't know where my bike lock's KEY is. Ugh! I was fully surprised today when Anja told me, beaming from ear to ear, that she'd asked a friend of ours, who is good at fixing things, if he had some bolt cutters. Basically, she was giving me a heads up, "We may be coming over on Saturday, to free up your bike!" Now, that is the definition of extravagance, on the part of both of them!
Another example-- last Saturday (June 11th!) when I came into breakfast, the whole room of retreat participants stood to their feet, sang "Happy Birthday" & then greeted me with handshakes & hugs. extravagance-- even in standing up versus singing while seated. I was led to a special birthday seat decorated with balloons & a "Snickers" cake (made by Anja & transported by car to the retreat center!). extravagance. Then I was asked to unwrap a box, in which were several smaller boxes inside each other ... (extravagance.) ...which finally opened to a tiny red (how fun!) iPod! It was the size I can use to work out at the gym. The group knew I had been missing mine; I lost it on the plane in February. extravagance. If that were not enough love, hugs, attention, honor and fun-- on the iPod was the engraved word: "gomartha," as well as the reference for a theme verse in my life:
"Das Volk, das im Dunkel lebt, sieht ein großes Licht. Die im Land der Finsternis wohnen, Licht leuchtet über ihnen." - Isaiah 9:1 (in English verse 2)