Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him. James 1:12

Friday, August 12, 2011

“Up Against the Wall”

Deb Douglas, Women’s Minister of First Baptist Church in Bossier City, Louisiana, recently told the story of her experience in a Houston airport. Not having the best of days, Deb noticed a peculiar looking wall covered in tiles. She was disturbed by the fact that the mismatched tiles were arranged in such a hodge-podge, but even worse - there was an area of tiles that were missing all together. Not being able to make sense of it, she became infuriated that the airport would care so little and not take the time to maintain it.

Feeling as if she needed to speak up on behalf of the wall, Deb took several steps back. She caught a glimpse of a man in a red coat and assumed he was an airport employee - the perfect person in which to plead her case that the wall of tiles should be “fixed”. But just as her accusations began to spill off her tongue she caught a second look at the tile wall and it all became so clear. From a distance, she realized that those same mismatched tiles in reality created a beautiful mosaic.

Women in crisis tend to be “up against the wall”. All we can focus on is what is right in front of us and we cannot seem to see beyond the moment. But when we take a step back and look through God’s lens, we find that He was creating something beautiful all along.

God is weaving a golden thread through the tapestry of our lives, and yes, that includes the junk as well as the joys. Each experience, good and bad, becomes a tile on our wall. We cannot seem to make any sense of it by looking at the individual tiles, but when we take a step back and consider the bigger picture, an amazing mosaic will be brought to light. For, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

As we face the struggles of life, we must keep in perspective that God can bring good out of any situation. Each tile is an important piece to our puzzle. Without it, the beautiful mosaic would not be complete.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

“The Aroma of Christ”

It was an early summer morning just following a light, but steady rain shower. I decided to get a walk in before heading off to work. Living in the country provides for many sights, but most of all smells (if you know what I mean), especially when you live smack dab in the middle of Amish country, surrounded by farmland and barnyards. I passed numerous friendly cows along the way as I walked briskly up the road. Suddenly there was one aroma in particular that caught my attention. Now it’s not exactly what you’re thinking. Normally when the words cow and aroma are placed in the same sentence one would assume to experience something quite unpleasant, but that was not the case. Instead, the smell stopped me in my tracks and transported me back about 30 years to my childhood.

The picture was vivid in my mind. It was one of laughter and simplicity – a carefree spirit – as I recalled the memories of living in the country as a child. I remembered watching the neighbors working in the field and my brothers helping as they baled the hay. I was swept away to a less complicated summer day, where as a child I did not stress about the cares of the world. I smiled as I came back to reality, and then it hit me. Isn’t it truly amazing how something as simple as an aroma can take you right back to a time or an event in the past as if it had happened just yesterday.

At that intricate moment the aroma of freshly cut hay hit my nostrils and hurled me back in time. For others it may be the smell of freshly baked bread that ushers in reminders of grandma’s kitchen. Or maybe the aroma of a certain sweet-smelling perfume that brings back memories of mom. Sometimes certain odors trigger unpleasant memories that we wish to forget or have buried deep into our subconscious and it’s painful to remember. Whatever the case, the sense of smell can play a key role in our everyday lives. Did you know that we as Christians are called to be an aroma?

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task? Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God.” 2 Corinthians 2:14-17

Smell has a strong power to vividly bring back memories, or images of people and places. It is definitely more important than we realize. What do we smell like as a church to the world around us - to our families and our neighbors? Are we leaving behind an unpleasant odor, or are we a welcome and refreshing fragrance? When others breathe in our aroma, is it that of Christ? Are we spreading His fragrance among those who are perishing? Let us be challenged to be the scent that sweeps others back to pleasant memories of salvation, mercy and grace as we spread the fragrance of hope to a dying world. Let us live our lives in such a way that people remember the fragrance of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus because of us – the aroma of Christ.