What’s that Smell?! Tuesday, July 1st, 2014
Last Sunday, we spent the morning like any other. I made breakfast and got the kids ready for church. I ironed clothes, fixed hair and actually put on some makeup. We weren’t even running late. It was basically a Sunday morning miracle.
Our drive to church takes us about twenty- five minutes on two lane roads. We pass wheat fields and cattle and pasture land… and we occasionally get stuck driving slow behind a piece of farm equipment.
With about 5 minutes left of our drive, we found our wheels traveling across a “trail” left by a cattle truck. If you don’t speak Southern, we drove across a giant pile of “stinkies.” If you don’t speak toddler… then you’ll just have to use your imagination.
The car was filled with the stench. My daughter accused my son of the smell and my son accused my husband. We all gagged. We all laughed. And then we forgot about it.
One of the last free spots when we pulled into the church parking lot was located at the back of the property. My husband pulled in, turned off the van, and we all climbed out.
It was as if the car had a green fog around it. Oh my goodness, friends. It was TERRIBLE. Just… no… really… it was so bad. We hadn’t just driven across the smell. We had brought it with us.
As other church goers pulled up nearby and started to climb out of their cars, I couldn’t help but grab our stuff quickly and put as much distance between us and our car as possible. All while questioning loudly, “What is that TERRIBLE smell?! I wonder where it is coming from!!” Hoping that no one would realize it was coming from our vehicle.
We made our way inside, and shook the greeter’s hand. We dropped our kids off in their classes and went into worship.
But I couldn’t help but think about the similarity between our stinky van and our often stinky lives.
We clean ourselves up and make sure that people only ever know about the best parts of us. We photoshop our struggles and airbrush our flaws. We fix our hair and put on makeup, and brag about how real we are. But when it comes down to it, many of us would rather pretend that the stench is coming from somewhere else… anywhere else.
We want as much distance between us and our mess as possible.
Here is some good news though – God knows that we all struggle. He knows that there are times when we mess up and go right through it. He doesn’t need us to pretend that it isn’t us that stinks. He doesn’t need us to clean up ourselves before we come before Him. Just like driving a stinky van to church, he wants us to bring our mess right before His throne – Because He can handle it. He isn’t offended by it.
As a matter of fact, in Scripture He gives us a perfect example of how he runs to us – mess and all.
In Luke 15:11-32, Jesus tells a story about a certain young man who asked for his inheritance from his father while his father was still alive. The father gave freely, and the son went and wasted it on insensible living. He found himself working for a pig farmer and tending to the pigs. The son became so desperate, that he considered eating the pig’s food, and then realized that he would be much better off working as a servant in his father’s house. So, he began the long journey home. Scripture explains that while he was still a long ways off, the father saw him, ran to him, and embraced him. The father didn’t require the son to become a servant, but restored him to the position that he was in before he left home. He honored and blessed his son who once was lost, but had returned home.
Can you imagine the dialogue that the son had as he walked home? Gosh I’m a mess. What will dad think of me? But here’s the cool thing about his journey home. While it might seem like the journey back to God is just as long as it was away from Him – it is not! Because the Father runs to meet us. He embraces us in our stink. He loves us in our mess. He isn’t changed by our circumstances or what we have brought with us.
But we are always changed by His presence.
What’s that smell? Well, friend, sometimes it’s us, but it’s always okay.