Tuesday, January 20, 2009

From Fragrant to Foul

I have to tell you, praising God every moment can be just a tad challenging when your roof is falling down around you -- literally. I live in Oregon, at the mouth of the Columbia River Gorge. Although beautiful, this is the place where all the news trucks gather during inclement weather. And we've had our fair share of inclement weather this year.

We survived the heaviest snow fall since the 1950's and this week has brought a whole new blast ... of WIND. We've had house-shaking, window-rattling, gusts over 50 mph. For two nights we huddled together as our roof collapsed around us. The fence toppled over too. Praise God we have good homeowners' insurance. I can't imagine living in the Midwest or along the coastal ranges where high winds and tornado's make frequent visits. Actually, I'm already eager for spring.

Now that you know where I've been and what's happened, I want explore how -- what initially seems fragrant can ultimately turn foul.

The other day, at work, one of my clients came into my office for a counseling session. As she sat nearby, I noticed a very unique, yet pleasing fragrance. She explained it was a new perfume. She raised her wrist, giving me the opportunity to get a closer whiff. (You know, like taking a closer look!)

We continued talking. Then, unexpectedly, something surprising happened. The appealing fragrance became rather revolting. I tried my best not to gag in front of my client (a small cough managed to escape). My eyes started to water, and I could barely tolerate the perfume that had become nauseatingly vile. It had turned from fragrant to foul in less than thirty minutes.

Thankfully, she had to leave and I rushed to open my window. The fresh (freezing) air worked its way through my office. Eventually, the remaining stench was vanquished for good.

Why am I sharing this story? Maybe it's already obvious what direction we're headed. Regardless, please stay with me. The message, if familiar, will serve as a good (godly)reminder.

Consider sin. Any sin. Eeny, meeny, miny, moe ... let's go with over eating. Yes, a sin that I struggle with on regular basis. A sin that is prevalent in our fast food, super-sized nation. I don't know many women who haven't faced the "to eat or not to eat just one more bite" dilemma.

It starts something like this: Work was really hard today. My boss wasn't nice. I couldn't get my paperwork done. Clients were ultra-challenging. My co-worker stole all the glory for our completed project. I'm so-o-o-o stressed out. Ah ha! I still have that birthday cake ice cream in the freezer. (Of course I do. I hid the carton behind the frozen vegetables so no one would find it) Anyway, I lounge in my favorite chair, feet up, and dig into my bowl of heaping cold sweetness. Those little added pieces of cake make the treat double tasty. Scrumptious!

I complete the dish and feel satisfied. Sure, I have this nagging feeling that maybe I should have talked to God about my "bad day," but the ice cream seemed to do the trick. And ... considering how yummy and soothing the first bowl was maybe another bowl would make me feel even better.

After gagging down the second dish, I realize that I didn't even taste the little pieces of fluffy cake. In fact, I don't even remember eating the second serving. I feel nauseous, depressed, and my stress level has risen to a whole new level of unmanageably. What happened? The simple snack turned into a foul feeding frenzy. I've committed several obvious sins -- gluttony, idolatry, lack of faith, rebellion ... you get the picture. Oh, and the initial problem wasn't solved at all.

When we sin, no matter how insignificant the the action might seem, there is a pattern in place. In the beginning, we experience pleasure. To put it another way ... it seems so fragrant. Yet at some point, it turns foul. You simply cannot turn crabgrass into a rose bush no matter how hard you try. The pesky weed spreads through the lawn making the grass look un-kept. Sin spreads through our lives, and no amount of trying harder or pretending will make things better.

Thankfully, we have God. Like the fresh air that whisked away the putrid perfume from my office, Jesus Christ wipes away our sins. As Princess Warriors for Christ, we can open our hearts and let the cleansing power of God remove any foulness from our lives. He is always fragrant. His ways are fresh, clean, and redeeming.

I guess the question is: What things in your life have gone from fragrant to foul? Is it time to invite God to do a new work in your heart? I know that everyday is a day that I need His forgiveness and grace. In our weaknesses He is strong. When we are inadequate He is more than adequate. His mercy is new every morning.

Lord, so often I seek what I know won't relieve the pain in my heart. I tell myself that it looks, smells, feels, or tastes good. I imagine that just a little of this and a little of that will somehow mend the ache in my soul, an ache that only you can heal. I know the truth; yet at times I believe the lie. Forgive me for seeking what turns foul.

For a moment, sin may seem fun, but it can never bring joy. You alone are the source of my joy. You are my hope and my future. In You, I Iive, breathe and have my being.

Your Word reminds us that we don't live on bread alone but every word that comes from You. What the world offers is never enough. Help me remember that You are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen. Love Your daughter, Your princess warrior.


creative gal said...

Thank you for your post!!

Beaner said...

I just read about Mary and Martha today, how we can become distracted from God's presence in everything we do. Busy schedules tend to rule out instead of include God's spirit in our lives. So thank you for one more reminder to keep relying on Him instead of replacing Him :)