I am pondering aromas today. It might have something to do with the fact that I am sitting here quiet, surrounded by a darkened fall morn, hoping to infuse the day with one of my favorite Yankee Candle scents, Autumn Leaves. One might wonder why I enjoy the smell of dead foliage, or why I don’t just fling open the kitchen door and bury my face into the plentiful piles of leaves covering the driveway and lawn. The answer to the latter is easy: It’s 6:00 AM, dark and 37 degrees out. If I dare to snuffle a pile of autumn with my face close, I don’t know what cold, damp aspect of nature I’ll find clinging to my nose after a good long inhale.
As for the former, why do I love the smell of autumn leaves? Because it is more than the smell of a sleeping tree. It is what the fragrance represents. It is the woodsy-mixed-with-piney scent of all that IS New England autumn: the Indian summer days tinged with crisp evening cool, ruby red apples hanging off a gnarled branches, school buses laden with newly-shoed children, soccer balls driven into nets while parents cheer, fat orange pumpkins standing guard on doorsteps.
It is both endings and beginnings, as seasons overlap. It is the first soft sweater pulled overhead, the blaze of bonfire and sip of cider with friends.
Scents are a marvelous trigger of memories for me.
The smell of the heat first kicking on means it’s cozying up with tea and fleece time—all those lazy stolen moments on the couch with dogs and now grown children on Sunday afternoons.
A new box of Crayola crayons is first and second grade all over again, sitting before Miss Marinel, waiting for her to tape prizes to papers that were well done.
A whiff of banana bread transports me, draped in an oversized apron, to a kitchen chair, where I stand helping Mum pour and stir while singing silly songs. “There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza….Hello Maddah, hello Faddah, here we are at, Camp Wanadah!…” It is childhood.
Scents are a survival tool God has crafted in all of His creations. Scents are how living beings find food, or water, and discern safety or danger. Some aromas are pleasing, others are repulsive. We even have different sounding words to categorize them, the pleasant ones roll off of our tongue, whispering sweet associations, while others evoke nose crinkles, frowns– a turning away and avoidance. aroma, scent, fragrance, bouquet…..odor, stench, smell…
This autumn scent has me thinking about 2 Corinthians 2:15. I am holding aroma in my hand today, turning it over, examining it from every side…
“For we are to God, the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.”
If I read that correctly, as God inhales our lives, He smells His Son. And it pleases Him. Oh, I pray that it does!
Usually when I read that verse, I am drawn to the BEING CHRIST among others. Typically, in a sermon or study, the focus is on how to be Christ among those that don’t know Him well, if at all. Today I read that a little differently.
First it is TO GOD that we are an aroma of His Son. Yes, it is to others, but first and foremost, we are a pleasing fragrance to God. It is only then that we can be wafted out to others, and not only to those who are lost, but notice that God reminds us here that we are an aroma to each other—to fellow believers and members of His family. Like an athletic proving ground, His church is where we test the waters of our living faith, and hone it by practice and response– to be a pleasing aroma that we live with the lost.
I am humbly grateful that I do not have to craft my own soul scent. Invited to the wedding between God and His Beloved Bride, to be part of the Bride, His church, I am infused with the scent of Jesus by God’s own grace. With grace-covered living in faith and obedience, my fragrance is sweet to God.
How delightful is your love, my sister, my bride! How much more pleasing is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your perfume more than any spice! Song of Solomon 4:10 NIV
I shudder to think of the alternative, and the consequences of God inhaling an odor less than worthy of His embrace. If I leave the fragrant covering of Jesus, then God will be repulsed by the odor that wafts to His nostrils. There will be no more beautiful words to describe how I smell, and like my face when it’s my turn to haul the week’s refuse to the barn for disposal, God will have every right to turn away in disgust.
Instead of fragrance there will be a stench;
instead of a sash, a rope;
instead of well-dressed hair, baldness;
instead of fine clothing, sackcloth;
instead of beauty, branding.
Your men will fall by the sword,
your warriors in battle. Isaiah 3:23-25
I don’t even like to read those verses, let alone live them.
My dog, Libby, uses scent to discern what she may interpret as unfaithfulness. She knows when I have ‘been with another dog’. I get a thorough nasal examination if I return from a friend’s house with the smell of one of my other puppy friends clinging to my pant legs. She knows I’ve been sharing my affection with someone else.
How much more discerning is God’s sense of smell?
Today, I want to be more aware of the perfume I wear.
“…put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” Romans 13:14
“For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Galatians 3:27
It is a daily struggle to make godly, discerning choices about what I let into my life and while walking here on the soil of my temporary home, I will make thousands of decisions a day. I pray that I will attune my ears to the Spirit, measure my choices alongside God’s word, and live bathed in Christ. I can do this, knowing my competence to choose rightly and live the aroma of Christ comes from God. I thank God that the aroma of His Son is stronger than my poor choices.
Such is the confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God… 2 Cor. 3:4,5
Come along on the journey with me? Sniff the air, fill your life with sweet aromas, and let them draw you into His arms.
Just trying to be a better sheep over here in a New England autumn–smelling the pines mixed with beginning-to-doze maples… and trying not to stink.