I would hazard to guess there aren’t too many people who wouldn’t enjoy some pampering. What could be more refreshing than a deep cleansing facial; more relaxing than a therapeutic massage; or more rejuvenating than toxins being released through various natural body wraps? And even if you can’t get to the health spa for the royal treatment, we have our rituals at home for taming the troubled beast. Bath bombs and bubble baths, pulsating shower heads, massage chairs, and aroma therapy. We spend a lot of money on the latest hair care and glamour products, hair removal creams, tan in a bottle, anti-wrinkle creams and serums.
Believe me, I get it. It seems much of our time becomes obliged to fight our bodies that insist on aging, falling apart and succumbing to ailments, disease and death.
For many of us, that battle is waged as we pursue hobbies, sports, gardening, and countless extracurricular activities that keep us in shape and bring us joy. My husband Paul, plays a lot of golf. I however, don’t fare well to the sport. And since he is such an avid player when we travel, I take it upon myself to take advantage of a little pampering whenever possible. I’m reminded of a time when we went to France for a little relaxation. While Paul played the course, I ducked into the Bains Thermale. I don’t really know French so when I looked at the menu to select the various spa treatments, I was at a loss. Nobody spoke English so we tried Spanish and fortunately we were able to communicate—albeit in the most rudimentary manner. After discussing the various options available, I chose three activities having no anticipation of what was to come.
The first treatment had me lying on what appeared to be a stainless steel autopsy table. The technician proceeded to smear the most awful smelling slime, which could have come from the storm sewers outside for all I knew. I was cold, smelly and offended by the whole ordeal. My next treatment came as I stood at the end of a corridor in the buff while a female technician with the personality of a drill sergeant screamed at me in French. She wore what looked like a hazmat suit and held in both of her hands what resembled a firehose. She pushed a few buttons on a control board, swung her face protectant shield down and pointed her hose at me.
Oh no, this can’t be right! She isn’t going to turn that hose on me, is she?
The force of the water knocked me against the wall as my seven extra pounds of love handles shook with death defying force.
Humiliated by my nightmare experiences, I dreaded what was next. I was escorted to a large pool where 20 other French spa-goers were waiting in the water for what I gathered was a water aerobics instructor. As the poetic sound of the foreign tongue guided the students in a lovely water ballet, I could only understand two words vous respirez. So, I breathed and watched everyone else as I participated a stroke behind. An interesting memory was being in front of a few jets that would not let me stand without holding on to the ropes floating next to me. It was awkward. I find it relatively easy to convey a cool, calm and collected persona on dry land—but all of that was lost in the 400,000 gallon pool.
I don’t think that my French experience is what most would anticipate as exercises in repose and tranquility. I have had far better therapies of calming serenity in other spas.
So, just what are these spa experiences for?
Basically, to calm us, to rejuvenate our skin, to increase blood flow to our whole body, to ready us for more life experience.
I think of what it must have been like for Esther as she was being prepared to meet her King.
Each girl had her turn to appear before King Achashverosh after she had undergone the full twelve-month preparation period prescribed for the women, consisting of a six-month treatment with oil of myrrh and six months with perfumes and other cosmetics for women (Esther 2:12).
This was considered a waiting period; taking time for the express purpose of “getting prepared.”
I imagined she had quite a few “six-month treatments” that probably included scrubbing, buffing, softening and polishing her skin. She was no doubt soaked, saturated, rubbed, doused and massaged. And I’m sure her hair was treated in oils, her nails groomed and over-all hygiene taken to the next level. Her makeup was perfected and her beauty was enhanced.
All of this goes back to some simple instructions in Scripture. We see it in the parables of the ten virgins.
“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3 Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5 But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.
6 “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming;[a] go out to meet him!’ 7 Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us someof your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.
11 “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ 12 But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’
13 “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour[b] in which the Son of Man is coming (Matthew 25:1-13 NKHV).
Our King is warning us that there is a preparation time that we must all be busy preparing our hearts for our presentation before Him.
I look at my own life and notice that I needed this “ground work” of waiting time. Not so much physically—but definitely spiritually.
I believe this parable is teaching us that we need to look inwardly at all the imperfections of our souls. The deficiencies we carry are literally our pain or wounds from the past, or perhaps our selfish actions that resulted in blemishes on our heart. For these we should seek healing, restoration and rejuvenation.
And hopefully, not at the end of an industrial size firehose!