Fragrance of Grace

It’s a sweet, kind of musty fragrance that brings it all back to me like a flood. When I pick up its scent in someone’s home, or as a random occurrence, to me it is a fragrance of grace. It takes me back to a place where I once had a pivotal meeting with God.

The distinctive smell reminds me of the candles in a cabin on the river where I spent almost a week several years ago. Occasionally I’ll come across that familiar fragrance and instantly I’m reliving the emotions of the angry, frustrated, pain-filled wife who went to the cabin seeking answers but left a changed woman.

And as I return to that cabin in my mind, tears flow.

I wasn’t a crier before I went to the cabin. Some people who knew me before my “cabin awakening” would describe me as hard and intimidating, even cold. I didn’t realize my exterior had grown caustic. My heart was to follow Christ, I loved Him, but I had a thick shell when it came to people.

I’d been hurt.

A lot.

As a little girl, I was taken from my bed while asleep. Only five, I was harmed in a way no child should experience. But I clung to my Savior who I’d met earlier that year. He became my sanctuary; my safe place.

Entering my teen years, I still had a passion for Christ, still followed hard after Him, but I developed a defensive and protective attitude when it came to relationships. “I will not be held down, and I will not let you hurt me . . .” My words, intimidating demeanor and intensity could keep people at a distance. And if you wanted to debate verbally, I was more than happy to take you down.

I was ugly.

But the funny thing is—I didn’t see it. I didn’t see what others saw. I only knew that I loved Jesus and couldn’t understand why there was so much conflict in my life. But during my stay at the cabin, the Savior graciously began slowly pulling back the veil, to let me look inside at the pain I’d kept hidden there.

He let me see who I’d become and the sight horrified me. It broke me.

I started weeping and in a sense I’ve never stopped.

People seem uncomfortable with my tears and I try to restrain them, try to gather my composure but I’ve been shown such mercy and forgiveness that the tears come uninvited, they spill because I can’t get over His grace. I can’t stop being amazed and grateful. When I consider His mercy or when just a statement triggers a memory of His goodness in my life, the tears start flowing fresh almost like it’s the first time again.

I think it may be a little like Isaiah’s experience when the holiness of God became like a floodlight on the prophet’s sin. “Woe is me! I am unclean . . .” It was an eruption that forever marked him. Or Paul’s knowledge that he was the greatest of sinners. When you see your natural corruption against the backdrop of the pure Christ, you can’t help but know you are vile, the most wretched of beings.

I can relate to the sinner woman who couldn’t stop weeping because of Christ’s mercy. She loved much because she’d been forgiven much. I wonder if she had the same tendency, for tears to rush freely whenever she spoke of her precious Savior, not being able to stop the flow and not wanting to cause others discomfort, but unable to remain unmoved when reminded again of His rich grace.

There in that cabin, He showered me with His grace by opening my eyes to my sin but also by extending mercy and hope for transformation. He desires to shower you with that same grace.

Can you smell it?
Have you caught a whiff of the fragrance of grace?
Have you experienced the grace of your sin being exposed and His forgiveness being applied to your life?

I’d love for you to share with me.


  • Chris Afeld

    Oh Kim,
    I totally related to the fragrance. I think we, as women, tend to smell differently than men. When we smell different scents, it takes us to a place or a person of another time.
    I, too have a fragrance of grace, a whiff of a certain scent will take me straight to my Savior. A lover of my soul holding me during a difficult time. It also was a fragrance of grace. My prayer through that time was to show grace in that difficult time. I had a favorite candle that I burned while I met with the Lord every morning. Every time I smell that scent I am reminded of a God who promised to be my husband after my earthly one had went to be with the Lord. And He did just that. Tears flood my eyes now as I recall that smell and the “fragrance of grace”. Thank you dear friend for the reminder.

  • Praying for more Grace

    God pours out his grace on us, but I sometimes still struggle to offer that same grace to others. I want to be more kind, gentle and meek-spirited. I long to have more grace, but the world can harden a woman’s heart. It is so easy to get to a place where we allow ouselves to put up walls and become ugly inside. I am learning to love others as the Lord loves me.

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Dear Chris,

    Such a sweet testimony, thank you for sharing dear friend. I am praying for you in this new and difficult season that the memories of how the Lord met you after Jerry’s passing will bring courage for what you are now facing. My heart goes out to you and I am interceding as one who understands the pain of separation that you are now facing. The Father has faithfully brought you to mind several times today and I’m praying.

    This is only temporary (as you well know) and God will use it in your life and theirs. You have my love and prayers dear friend. So glad you stopped by the blog!

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Dear Praying for more Grace,

    What an appropriate prayer to lift to the Father. Yes, the world can harden a woman’s heart–but if we request the Father to give us the heart of Christ for the world, He will allow us to be filled with His compassion and give His responses . . . “not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead” (1 Peter 3:9).

    He has promised to pour out His grace on the humble (1 Peter 5:5; James 4:6). Those things that bring pain and cause us to want to erect walls to insulate or protect us from injury are often the instruments He employs to bring us to deep places of humility where we can know and experience greater grace.

    May you breathe in grace, exhale worship, and extend His love and grace to others dear one.

  • Vivian Etherington

    Kim, you know my story of the first time God broke me and I saw His beauty and my depravity for the first time. There is nothing sweeter than repentance, brokenness, forgiveness! I love your tender heart and your tears — very precious! Just recently I attended a women’s my church and the theme of it was “Adorned with Humility: living Christ-centered in a me-centered world”. The Lord refreshed and revived my soul; He convicted my heart. The evening after the conf.was over, I sat and wept as I wrote to the Lord in my journal all that was on my heart. This morniing I sat in a chapel service at Union Univ. and was moved to tears as we sang “Mighty to Save” and “Consume me from the Inside Out”; also tears of gratitude that my daughhter is in such a place, hearing the kind of preaching we heard this morning.
    I am still amazed by God’s grace and pray I NEVER get over it!

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Love it! Thanks so much for sharing your heart here, Viv. His grace is continually amazing, isn’t it? And I love seeing it displayed in your life 🙂