Category Archives: Periscope

What is your fragrance?

3 columbines on TorreysThere are many synonyms for fragrance; aroma, odor, cologne, perfume, and smell to name a few. Each word brings a picture to mind. Cologne may spark a memory of hugging your grandmother whereas aroma could bring a flood of Thanksgiving feast memories of turkey cooking and homemade pumpkin pie.

One of the most pungent scents I can think of is the smell of a campfire. Sitting around the fire ring on a camping trip is packed with family memoires from storytelling to marshmallow roasts to make sh’mores. You couldn’t stay put in one chair or even designate a log as yours for the smoke was so unpredictable shifting constantly. As soon as you’d move it would change direction.

The time eventually came to pack up camp and head home. As soon as the clothing bag entered the laundry room and was opened I could smell the campfire. The smoke had permeated every square inch of every item bringing a smile to my face each time. I love the smell of a campfire; I guess it is because of the memories.

Fragrance brings a totally different picture; it is of colorful gardens, floral shops and flower arrangements. Each flower carries its own fragrance and some fragrances are so light our sense of smell cannot even detect it. Fragrances can be spicy or musky, sweet or sour, each is unique to particular flowers. My favorite is lilies with roses not far behind but with roses each bred has a fragrance which is slightly different. For flowers to release their fragrance they must first open up and be vulnerable. If the bud stays tight we would never smell its unique fragrance. Only when the flower dies and is crushed does it release its full potential.

The mint leaf had only a little fragrance until it dies, is dried and crushed. Then the fragrance is so potent it can overwhelm many other smells. At the Celestial Seasons tea company in Boulder Colorado they produce mint tea. To be able to do it though they had to give mint its own room, the mint room, which is sealed off from all other areas of production. If they didn’t do this it would weave its way into all the other flavors of tea.

2 Corinthians 2:14-15 tells us “through us God spreads everywhere the fragrance of the floral displayknowledge of Him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved.” Fragrance, like mint and campfire smoke, lingers after you have left the mint room or camp ground. We are a fragrance, our lives our words, our actions should be remembered by those whose lives we touch.

My daughter Beth was a wonderful example of being the fragrance of Christ, when her name came up in conversation or on an invitation list people spoke only well of her and her love for God. On her swim team she was given the title “Social Butterfly”. To her there were no clicks. When she saw a team mate standing alone she would draw them into the circle. What had first started as the ‘popular’ group, we all know what that means, and the ‘outcasts’ became “The swim team”. No one was left out when Beth was around. She would light up a room by simply entering for her attitude was always one of love and joy, Christ’s fragrance.

We are all created as individuals; the fragrance of Christ will ‘smell’ different for each of us. There is one common ingredient we all need though, a willingness to be His aroma.

What aroma do you want to remain when you leave?

A life fragrance is our reputation. Our lives may be the only sermon some people may ever hear.

How much can you bear?

Prepare

Prepare

The quiet of the morning was a welcome reprieve to the hectic night I had on the ambulance. I put this time to good use doing inventory on the rig and shelves in the storage area. We needed to always be ready. This moment of calm could be interrupted any moment. Emergency Medical Services could be misinterpreted by the outside world as Earning Money Sleeping. Yes there can be long periods of extreme boredom but it is punctuated by intense levels of adrenaline. When tones sound waking us from a deep sleep we have to be ready for anything. The honest truth is we are a highly trained, well equipped rolling Emergency room.

Interrupting my inventory Cynthia, a member of the next shift, entered the room. In a glace I could read her face, she was low enough emotionally to be able to walk under a door. I wanted to cheer her up. What does a Christian say to another Christian to cheer them up? I grabbed for the one I had heard and used often,

“Cynthia, God will never give you more than you can handle.” I paused, expecting this to lift her spirit. “That is not what it says, go look it up!” was her sharp retort.

What? I was shocked and my face probably showed it as I became instantly silent not knowing any reply for that statement.

My shift ended and I headed home, straight for my concordance. I really didn’t know where that scripture was in the Bible but I knew it was there. I heard it in songs, read it in sympathy cards, and heard pastors use it in sermons. I searched under “handle” and came up empty handed so I looked under “more” and still no results. Wondering what other words could be used to convey the thought I struck on “bear” as in ‘more than you can bear’. I struck gold when I read “more than you can bear” cited in 1 Corinthians 10:13. I opened my Bible and read, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.” Wait, that can’t be right! There must be another verse; this one deals with temptation not trials. I searched for another 30 minutes before I realized 1 Corinthians 10:13 is the verse but I had misquoted it. I had made it say something it really didn’t say.

I pondered on this for days, I really didn’t want to admit Cynthia was right but she was! There was no scripture which said God would not give me any more than I could bear. That meant I would have to face trials I could not bear if I followed it logically. What does God want me to do then when I face those situations?

This thought led me on an intensive study to find the answer. Mining God’s word took me weeks before God showed me the answer. Paul had undergone overwhelming trials and sure enough he had addressed this very issue in his second letter to the Corinthians.

‘We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.”

Wow, this is Paul and he was experiencing far more than he could bear. He saw it as an opportunity to learn not to rely on himself but on God. He was familiar with God’s power to even raise the dead so even death was not beyond God’s power. This was my answer. When I am facing overwhelming pressure and trials I need to rely on God, His power will get me through.

God opened my eyes to 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 then showed me two more verses confirming Paul’s statement:

“God gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak” Isaiah 40:29

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” I Corinthians 12:9

I rested in this new knowledge but had not faced anything beyond my ability to endure yet. At the time I didn’t realize He was preparing me for what was to come.

Just as I had been doing an inventory of the ambulance so we would be prepared for any call I now realized I needed to take an inventory of my spiritual life. Was I well grounded? Was I ready for whatever came my way? Was I drawing close to God daily even when things where quiet? My study of God’s word proved to ground me in God’s faithfulness which I was going to need.

When have you needed to rely on God?