So, let's be honest here. (It's my blog. Today I chose honesty. Tomorrow I will try to make myself look good.) Lately, I've been in a bit of a spiritual slump. I can blame it on a lot of factors (well, except God...), but the bottom line is that I have been running on spiritual fumes for far too long. This isn't an easy time for me as we are making some big transitions, and I think that, while the changes are good, they have temporarily deflated my spiritual sails. As a family, we are heading in the right direction, but for awhile I've been adrift.
Finally...finally...I did what I knew I should have done at the first sign of trouble (or before actually) - I picked up my Bible and dove in. It always amazes me how much I crave reading the Word, find a million excuses to put it off, and then when I finally get back into it I realize how life giving it is. Again. Because I learned this the last time I was struggling spiritually. Allegedly learned it. Mm-hmm.
I have been working through the Bible book by book (OK, if you want honesty, here is some. I was supposed to complete it in 90 days. I started January 1st. I'm in Jeremiah. Doh.), but I really felt drawn to jump into 2 Corinthians. Don't know why - it isn't my usual "go to" book, but I found myself reading and just soaking it in. When I got to chapter 2, I had one of those biblical "whoa"s.
But thanks be to God who leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task? 2 Corinthians 2:14-16
As I read that passage, a question bull-in-a-china-shopped its way to the forefront of my mind.
How do I smell?
Smells are a reoccurring theme and reality in my life. I am a scent person. I love perfume (Victoria's Secret Heavenly). I have strong memory responses to smells (the inside of my china cabinet reminds me of my Gram). I invest a significant amount of money in Febreeze holiday scent sprays ("Glistening Alpine" is the current favorite). I have two highly perspirant boys who take karate (no explanation necessary there) and a daughter learning American hygiene. If I had a quarter for every time I had to remind someone in this house to put deodorant on, I could buy enough Glistening Alpine to bathe in. I am a smell person.
But how do I smell?
Between the Holy Spirit and my obsession with Yankee Candles, the idea that I am to be fragrance of Christ resonated deeply in me. I read and reread those verses and began to evaluate my day with my nose. Did I smell like the knowledge of Christ? Did I smell like life (which has to be similar to Glistening Alpine) to my husband? Or did my words and deeds in moments of frustration smell "skunkified" to my children? The only thing worse than having B.O. is having spiritual pit stains that reek. And I realized that sometimes my attitude smelled worse than a middle school gym locker. Worse than a middle school boys gym locker.
I felt discouraged. I did not feel fresh. I found myself asking, "Yeah, God. Who IS equal to such a task? Because I clearly am not. I cannot maintain a pleasant aroma for more than a few minutes at a time!" And then, because God always has the answer, I breathed a deep sigh of relief when I read chapter 3, verse 5.
Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. 2 Corinthians 3:5
Or, as The Message Version says, "We stink. But God smells even better than Glistening Alpine, and He will lead and spread His fragrance of life via our rusty, scratched, yet environmentally friendly aerosol can. If we try to spread our own scent it will just smell like stale air. We're the can. He's the Refresher." (Roughly translated.)
The question "How do I smell?" has become a real test for me in the every day moments since I read this passage. It isn't an easy question to ask, but it is deeply fitting for me in this season of life. I have a child who isn't familiar with the knowledge of Christ and the indescribable beauty and blessing that this knowledge bestows upon those who believe. Trying to smell spiritually fresh to someone who lives with you 24/7 is not a task any human being can take up successfully, no matter how many candle warmers I own. (Three.) I find myself literally praying, "Lord, make me smell better!" It's no prayer of Mother Teresa or Billy Graham, but right now it is the cry of my heart.
I want to smell better. I want to smell like the knowledge of Christ. I want to be a pleasing aroma to the Lord. No amount of Febreeze or incense or deodorant will help with that. And so I'm off to curl up with what is better than any body spray. I'm going to read more of the Word and talk to my God who smells amazing.
Even better than Drakkar.