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.
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.