Sunday, January 22, 2012

Smelling is Telling

The faintest waft is sometimes enough to induce feelings of hunger or anticipation, or to transport you back through time and space to a long-forgotten moment in your childhood. It can overwhelm you in an instant or simply tease you, creeping into your consciousness slowly and evaporating almost the moment it is detected.
Stephen Lacey, Scent in Your Garden (1991)

Memories, imagination, old sentiments, and associations are more readily reached through the sense of smell than through any other channel.
Oliver Wendell Holmes

Stilly yet seriously, the snow sprinkled downward as salt from a giant shaker. Watching from the front lobby of the library where I work, the effect was magical and alluring. Aware of others' less positive sentiments towards the winter precipitation, I reined in my fascination. 

Surprisingly many patrons appreciated this weather wonder as a perfect backdrop for Popcorn Day, a friendly gesture the staff had planned for handing out free popcorn all day.  I love popcorn, as in devour-a-whole-big-green-Tupperware-bowlful on a Sunday evening kind of love. Or I-just-ate-lunch-but-I-think-I'll-have-some-popcorn now.  So I munched my way through the work day like the Hungry Caterpillar.  Actually, I consumed fewer bagfuls than you might expect, considering the tantalizing smell that hung in the air all day. Hovering over the reference desk. Wafting down the stairwells. Riding in the elevator. Clinging to my hair.  Oh, the bewitching aroma!

One day this week I made bread with the help of my kitchen friend--the breadmaker.  The heavenly scent of the freshly made staff of life followed me to bed, and the next morning I satisfied the mouth-watering longing to taste its scents-ational goodness.

Olfactory moments do transport us back to memories.  The pungent smell of a wood fire positions me on a lawn chair with family in a cooling summer night of a camping trip. Diesel fumes take me back to  strolls on city streets of Managua, Nicaragua where I spent a study-service term during college. I tenderly hold the memory of the moment I buried my widow's face in the worn suede jacket hanging in the closet, just to breathe in the familiar smell of a presence I painfully missed. 

It's as if I'm holding my infant close again whenever I catch a whiff of baby lotion.  The aroma of Brut or English Leather transports  me back to a high school sweetheart's hug.  I'm doing a small fast from coffee right now, and oh how I miss the wake-up scent of morning!

What memories do you have on the tip of your nose?

What memories or impressions are we making by the fragrance we carry? Not the cologne we're wearing, but the life we're sharing.

2 Cor. 2:14-15 says,
14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.

Do we walk by others and leave a sweet aroma that has them wondering what we're wearing that smells so good?  Or do they hold their nose until we leave the room, because our words or actions have stunk?

Father, help me follow you as one who has given up my own selfish independence to be captured by your life of victory and triumph, someone you can use to spread the sweetness of the knowledge of you  to everyone I encounter.  Wash me daily in your word and annoint me with the oil of your Holy Spirit so I only smell of you.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Have I Got Something to Tell You!

Whose ear wouldn't bend to that invitation?
Don't we all like to be chosen as intimate?

Jesus often said that he who has ears to hear, let him listen. What has amazed me anew, recently, is that the Son of God wants to speak and reveal things to us.  Are we in anticipation and are we listening?

I'm currently involved in a group study of the book of Revelation.  The curriculum steers us away from pinning times and seasons and methods of conjecture on how things will actually go down in the end, and instead guides our thinking to the faithfulness of a God who has always desired to reveal his plans and purposes to the people he loves.  In the end, rather than wipe everyone and everything out in one fell swoop, he brings judgment on a portion of peoples or a part of the earth, allowing another chance for more to come to repentance. 

What kind of God is this? Who so passionately loves the ones he's made.  Who is not willing that any should perish. Who gave us his one and only son to die, so we could have right standing with him and so be with him forever. 

Amos 3:7. "Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets."  God wants us to know his heart and his purposes.  So he...

warns us in our foolishness,
pursues us when we get side-tracked,
shows mercy when we mess up,
forgives when we confess,
imparts encouragement and endurance when we read his written Word,
calls us to partner with him in his work on the earth,
woos us to intimacy with him,
and never, never lets us go!

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. John 15:15 NIV 

What a promise!

But what if you don't seem to be hearing anything?

Recently, a pastor attempted to answer this question by suggesting that God had such a big download coming that it was just taking time to transfer the files. We need to be patient and wait on him. I can imagine that the 'everything' Jesus speaks about making us privy to,  needs to be shared in small bytes or our systems would crash with overload.

I am comforted knowing my God will share with me what I need to know when I need it. He is such a Good Friend.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Little Ones

"Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see."
John W. Whitehead, founder, Rutherford Institute

You know you've been with toddlers when you can't get the Veggie Tale's theme song out of your head.
Or your place setting is a whole twelve feet from the edge of the table, out of reach of small-sized hands that snatch up utensils, cloth or food faster than a frog zaps a fly, but far enough away that it's impossible to maneuver fork to mouth in a smooth, clean transaction.

You know you're spending time with little ones when there are multiple finger prints on reading glasses or smudges on your favorite T-shirt.  When your normal voices turns Mickey Mousish as you read out loud to the little form snuggled on your lap.

You know you've been Nana-ing when your body aches the day after, from running to first base in the back yard or from bending down to pick up or to listen face-to-face, one too many times.  When your house is more disheveled than usual and you don't even care.

You know you've been with those precious youngsters when you keep rehearsing your romps and rollicks with them after you separate. And you remember the sweetness of carefreeness, the intensity of play and the eagerness to be part of the action whatever the next moment holds.

Mark 10:14 & 15
He said to them, "Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."

You pick up a little more insight into what Jesus means by these words when you spend time with and observe the little ones.  Maybe he wants me to be towards him as my grandkids are towards me: That open spirit that easily accepts and gives love, or the freedom of expression that has little self consciousness.  Where everything we do together is all-out; sometimes working towards finishing a specific task, and sometimes just seeing what results from giving ourselves to creative meanderings. 

Am I eager to discover what surprises he has for me?  Do I go to him first thing in the morning and say , "What are we going to do today?"  Do I want to sit in his lap and listen to his stories, intently, begging to hear them again?  Do I forgive quickly?  Do I allow him to distract me from wailing over some unfulfilled selfish fixation?   Do I just want to be with him?

Father, teach me more about receiving your Kindgom as a little child.  Thank you for showing us your gentleness and love for those who sometimes are ignored or considered insignificant when life becomes too adult or too complicated.  Draw me to your lap where time doesn't matter and enthrallment is mutual.  I love you, Abba! Father!

If you're looking for a way to "listen to his stories" I'm including a couple sites where you can find Bible reading plans.  There are more plans out there than I was aware of and certainly one that will fit any of our lifestyles.  Storytime!

Monday, January 2, 2012

His Bounty

Psalm 65:11


You have crowned the year with Your bounty,
And Your paths drip with fatness.

Good things, benefit, welfare, happiness are things Strong's Concordance lists under the Hebrew word used for bounty in this verse.  May you find His bounty crowning the coming year.
As we know, the good things and the benefits may sometimes be disguised in trouble and sorrow.  To those who love Him and set their hearts on seeking His Kingdom, He will work all of it together for good.
Rebekah's story from Genesis grabbed my attention this week.  Abrahams' servant bathed his mission of finding a wife for Issac in specific prayer for God's leading.  God answered wonderfully, right down to the smallest details of his requests.  As he later told his story to Rebekah's family, God's obvious leading in bringing this servant into their home, became a confirmation that Rebekah had been destined for this mission.   Abraham's generous gifts to the family further sealed their commitment to the proposal, as they knew Rebekah would have more than adequate physical provision.  Rebekah is willing to go and she is given a say in whether she wants to go immediately or wait several days so the family can enjoy a longer goodbye.  She agrees to go with the servant right away as he is anxious to return to his master.  Isaac gladly accepts Rebekah as his wife.  (Find the story in Gen. 24)
Isaac and Rebekah were crowned with bounty.  All involved received goodness.  The bounty was delivered though, through the active participation of the recipients.  Abraham's servant set the scene with his prayers and testimony, Rebekah's family were in tune with God's answering service so that they recognized his signature in the whirlwind of events, and Rebekah had a heart that was ready to go when the opportunity called.  She was sent with the blessing of her family and familiar companions to travel with her. 
Lord, I want to see your bounty this year. 
Make me bold and specific in prayer when making requests, especially on behalf of others.
Help me to recognize your answers and to get to know your ways and methods, even more.
Give me a willing heart for whatever you ask me to do.
May your goodness and mercy follow me all the days of this year, as you shower me with the blessing of others in the Family and the companions to walk with me.