The older I get the more fragrances remind me of something from the past. As a young student at Lakeland Christian Grammar School, I would occasionally find myself in Miss Wheeler’s office. She was the principal for my six years at LCGS, grades three through eight. I’ll never forget the strong smell of the large, white gardenia blossoms that set prominently on her desk in the spring. Those seemed to be her favorite…at least that is my recollection.
As an eleven-year-old young man, I loved to go to one particular home to collect money each month for my paper route. As soon as the owner opened the front door I was hit with the smell of eucalyptus. For years I didn’t know what I was smelling, but I identified this aesthetically pleasing aroma with someone who knew how to make her home welcoming. Later I found out that it also keeps pests away.
Having just completed the Christmas holidays, I must confess that I still look forward to the smell of warm wassail slowly enveloping each room in the house. Even though our cold days are few and far between, I always look forward to that alluring cinnamon smell.
Most know the story in the Old Testament of Jacob’s deceitful actions toward his older brother Esau. While obeying his mother and disguising himself in his brother’s garments, Jacob duped his father into thinking he was Esau. Being the older sibling Esau saw himself as the rightful recipient of the blessing, but Jacob served the first meal and received the blessing of their father Isaac. Because Isaac could no longer see, he counted heavily on his senses of smell and touch. Genesis 27:27 says, “So he came near and kissed him. And Isaac smelled the smell of his garments and blessed him and said, ‘See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed!’” Surely Jacob must have been reminded throughout his life of his duplicity each time he went out into the fields.
Many years passed, and Jacob again crossed paths with Esau. This time he feared, not only for his life but for every member of his family and all his possessions. Jacob sent gifts ahead from his vast possessions and followed behind hoping to appease Esau. Jacob bowed seven times as he approached his brother. Genesis 33:4 records their reunion, “Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept.” What a beautiful picture of forgiveness. I imagine that many years later this scene played out in the mind of Jacob’s son Joseph, who forgave his ten older brothers for selling him into slavery in Egypt. Surely Joseph recalled his Uncle Esau’s willingness to forgive his father Jacob. Few stories are as gripping as the one recorded in Genesis 45; for even though man meant it for evil, God meant it for good.
In 2 Corinthians 2:15, Paul reminds us, “We are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.” May the life that is lived out before a watching world be a sweet aroma that is used to draw many into the kingdom of God.
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