The next best thing my elementary school self loved, in addition to the scented markers, were scratch and sniff stickers. You know, the ones with pictures of sweet looking fruit or candy - then a few little scratches released a fun aroma that didn’t always smell like the picture, but it was too cool of an experience for you to care. (Side note: Trader Joe’s still gives these babies out to kids, so bring a kid the next time you shop there.)
Scratch, scratch, sniff, sniff. Ahhhh.
Now imagine yourself as a scratch and sniff sticker. What would you smell like?
Let’s scratch before we sniff. Every item you list according to these bullet points, equals a scratch:
- Every tough thing you’ve experienced this year
- Every offense
- Your fears and doubts
- Unrepented sins
- The neighbor you haven’t learned to love
Honest answer, how do you smell?
Our aroma matters, and it matters especially to our Heavenly Father who instructs us to “walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:2) (emphasis mine)
A fragrant offering - says the God born in a barn, with hay in a manger for a bed. Not anyone’s ideal labor room or nursery.
Visited first by shepherds, the outcasts of the neighborhood wearing perfume that matched their wooly companions. Not anyone’s ideal choice of a visitor who had yet to wash their hands or observe any other newborn baby rules.
Visited next by wise men hiding from a king who was using them to locate the baby he wanted dead. Not ideal for anyone’s discharge and “let’s become a family” plans.
These unideal circumstances, these detours from the ideal plan and expectations are scratches in any mother and father’s dream birth story. (Not to mention the hit both Joseph and Mary got on their wedding plans.) Scratch, scratch.
And while I’m sure both of Jesus’ earthly parents moaned and groaned like any exhausted human being, their faith was displayed in their obedience, and to the Lord, that smelled good.
What about us? Just saying 2020 and 2021 feels like boatloads of scratches. Add on our individual trials, and we may start to look bruised. But that’s not what matters because the Lord looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). What matters is what we smell like.
Do we smell like our faith? Is our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ so beautifully strong, everyone asks what we’re wearing? Or are we allowing our icky circumstances to rot the fruit of the Spirit within us that people pinch their noses when we walk by?
Our pain and frustrations with the past couple of years are valid. But I pray that we would choose to believe that “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9
Though life can scratch and scratch, may our aroma be pleasing to the Lord. Because if we’re image bearers of Him, then we are scent bearers of Him too, and our God only smells good!
“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.” 2 Corinthians 10:14