Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Scent of Lavender

A couple Saturdays ago, I found this green vase at a garage sale.  I seem to have a strong attraction to green glassware.  After scrubbing my find, it sat empty for a while.  My darling Mumsy knows how I love lavender, and I was pleasantly surprised to see a sweet little bouquet on my dresser as I went to bed one night.  I bent over to smell the fresh blossoms... nothing.  How could this be!?  These perfect flowers had just insulted my nose with their lack of scent, and there they sat, smugly smiling up at this poor, disappointed girl.

The next morning I thanked my mom for her thoughtfulness in putting the flowers in my room, and she mentioned that I should crush the blossoms a bit so that they would release their scent.  I did so, and that night I inhaled their fragrance while I had my devotions.  It set me to thinking.  God usually gives me a verse in my head, and I go from there.  This time it was Isaiah 42:3 "A bruised reed He will not break And a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish;" If God wishes me to be a fragrant aroma, I too must be crushed.  I must be broken.  The following verses describe well what we are called to be.

"Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma."  (Ephesians 5:1-2)

"For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing." (2 Corinthians 2:15)

The aroma of Christ... what does that mean?  It must mean that we "smell" like Him.  To start with, there are some major clues in the verses above.  We are to be "imitators of God", to "walk in love", to be an "offering and a sacrifice to God", and to share the knowledge of Him with this world.  None of these things, however, can be accomplished if we simply sit like perfect blossoms, untouched and untouchable, entirely content with ourselves, unable to extend grace to those who come near enough to seek the divine aroma.

No, to be these things, we must first be broken.  To be honest, my flesh rebels against that.  I like being right, being strong, being adequate.  But my spirit rejoices in brokenness, because it is life to me.  Never has the Lord turned me away when I have come to Him broken over my sin, realizing again the rawness and reality of my need for the cross.  Always, my wounded heart is bound up, my guilt is forgiven, and I am left with the overwhelming joy of worshiping my Savior with clean hands and a pure heart that were washed by His blood.

I had a couple hours last week to read through Isaiah and journal for a while after I put the little guy I was looking after to bed (who, ironically, is named Isaiah).  Such beautiful promises and gentle rebuke the Lord gave to my heart that night!  Isaiah is one of my favorite books because of how clearly the nature of God is revealed.  His attributes are like a perfect diamond - each facet reflecting and enhancing the others to display the brilliant whole.  That evening, I was given a deeper understanding into God's righteous wrath, perfect justice, and incredible mercy.  The words of scripture are perfect, showing the error of the proud and showing grace and hope to the humble.

"For thus says the high and exalted One
Who lives forever, whose name is Holy,
'I dwell on a high and holy place,
And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit
In order to revive the spirit of the lowly
And to revive the heart of the contrite.'" (Isaiah 57:15)

"Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
And clever in their own sight!"(Isaiah 5:21)

“For My hand made all these things,
Thus all these things came into being,” declares the LORD.
“But to this one I will look,
To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word." (Isaiah 66:2)

To be raised, we must realize our lowness before a great God.  Christ himself is our greatest example.  He humbled himself to the point of His death, to achieve the glorious resurrection of many for the praise of His name.  In my own experience, it is when I feel like I'm doing just fine, when I become self-satisfied, that my relationship with Christ grows shallow.  I begin to forget that everything I am is from Him.  The reason I am writing this today, is because the Lord is reminding me of these very things.  So as I walk into my room tonight, where the crushed lavender is filling the room with the fresh fragrance of death, I will remember that life is poured out of the dying.  The seed of life has been planted in my heart, and "unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." (John 12:24)  That is my prayer for myself and for all to whom His life has been given.

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