Do You Smell That?

God has blessed me with a terrific smeller. I don't mean my nose, either. (I've always been sensitive about that, ever since I was a kid and my sister asked, "What’s that bump on Ginny's nose?" and Mom replied, "It's supposed to be there. She has a classic Greek profile." Ugh!) No, I mean I have a terrific sense of smell. An abnormally sharp sense of smell. A painfully acute sense of smell. In other words, if it smells good, I'm happy, but if it smells bad, I'm in pain.

I think my sense of smell may be one reason God hooked me up with my husband. The poor guy can’t smell much of anything. He says it’s because he smoked for several decades before he wised up and quit, and cigarettes severely damaged his olfactory sense. My sense of smell comes in handy for him around the house, like when he can’t tell if the milk is bad. He’ll twist off the top, hold it toward me and say, “Here. Smell this.” If I gag, he knows to throw it out. There have been a number of times when I’ve been working in my office, and noxious fumes waft through the house from the vicinity of the garage. I sprint in that direction shouting, “Shut that motorcycle off, or you’ll asphyxiate us!”

Though I’m not Catholic, I’ve always felt a sort of kinship with Saint Christina the Astonishing, who also had an overdeveloped sense of smell. It’s said that the smell of unwashed bodies so repulsed Saint Christina that she served the poor with a perfumed handkerchief pressed to her nose. According to recorded legend, at Saint Christina’s funeral when the crowds walked by her coffin, her body rose up in the air all the way to the rafters to escape the odor of unwashed humanity. Girl, I’m right there with ya. (I could go on at length about the person in the checkout line at Walmart the other day, but it’s probably unkind to dwell on others’ lack of personal hygiene.)

I realized something the other day. God has the most ultra-sensitive sense of smell there is. Unwashed humanity stinks to Him, too. No, not necessarily the physical kind, but the far, far worse stench of unrepentant sin. That’s why Jesus came -- to wash us clean, to rid us of the yucky smell of sin and dress us in clean, white clothing that smells as good it feels. (Okay, the imagination took over there a bit, but ‘clean’ conjures up the idea of good smells, doesn’t it?) One of my favorite verses is in Malachi 3:2. “But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soap.” I love that – Jesus washes away all the stinky dirt, like a launderer’s soap.

As I walk through the world day in and day out, I get hot and sweaty and dirty. That’s why I shower regularly. Otherwise, I end up filthy and smelling like a member of the unwashed crowd that sent poor Saint Christina zooming upward for a whiff of fresh air. But even more importantly, I need to apply that spiritual launderer’s soap regularly, too. Stand in His cleansing presence and let Jesus wash all the dirt away, and dress me in clean, fresh clothes. That way, my Father won’t have to hold a perfumed handkerchief to His nose when He’s talking to me.