What’s that smell?

“You cannot be sure of a good harvest whatever you do to a field.  But you can be sure that if you pull up one weed that one weed will no longer be there.” – C.S. Lewis

Part of our nature as humans is to look for the sure thing.  Sure things are easy.  They  don’t require faith, uncertainty, long nights of work and prayer.  Sure things just happen, right?

Maybe our love for the sure thing is the reason we want to put God in a box.  We want to have Him figured out, it’s easier that way.  If we have all the answers in a neat little outline, then the hard work of prayer and trust aren’t necessary.  It’s why we’ve turned to religion.  It’s easier for us to have a system that reduces our lives to a quid pro quo.  I do “this” for God, and He does “that” for me.

Too bad God didn’t get the memo.  You can look at scripture and see a God who seems to delight in doing things differently than the way we expect.  We see a God who sent the Messiah as a baby in a stable.  We see a God who anointed David as king, then let him hide in the wilderness for a few years, running for his life.

And you may not have to look at scripture to see this reality, maybe you can look at your own life.  The physical problems you didn’t expect or the divorce you didn’t plan on.  The death, the loss, the broken heart.  None fit into that box you thought contained your God.

Sometimes it’s all you can do to pull that one weed Lewis talks about. Sometimes it’s a major victory to just put one foot in front of another.  Sometimes just another breath is all you can muster.

It’s interesting to read about the composition of the ingredients God told Moses to use for the incense of the tabernacle: stacte, onycha, galbanum, and pure frankincense.  All are sweet, aromatic spices, with the exception of galbanum.  Galbanum, I’m told, has a pungent, bitter aroma.  It is used to intensify the fragrance of the other ingredients.

The sweetness is intensified by the bitterness.  The fragrance expanded by the pungent.

How about, instead of looking for the sure thing, we just breathe that one more breath, put that foot in front of the other, pull that one weed, pray that one more prayer?  How about, instead of resenting the challenges and bitterness in our lives, we allow them to blossom in a fragrance of trust and hope in a loving Father?

Remember this:  prayer does not necessarily fix all of our problems.  But the act of prayer itself is a victory.  It says to God, “Your will, not mine.”  By daring to humble ourselves we place ourselves in the hands of a certain God who often acts in unexpected ways.

  1. #1 by Erica on January 13, 2011 - 7:56 PM

    I love the analogy of the ingredients used for the incense in the tabernacle! The sweetness is intensified by the bitterness. I can vouch for that over and over again in my own life – which has not gone like I thought it would go. Yet what God had in mind for me was so much better. It has also been more challenging than I ever thought possible. At the same time – God has become more real in my life as a result of the bitter stuff I went through but didn’t want to go through. The same sun which melts the butter will harden the clay. I do think it is important to embrace the tough stuff and let God be glorified in the midst of it. He is the Master Potter!

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