I don’t know what it is about Wednesday Bible studies that always prompt a blog post. I have just come off a retreat with a group of women here in Bangkok and it was absolutely amazing. The pool and ocean were relaxing, and the time meeting other ladies was so much fun, but honestly, it was the alone time with God that most refreshed me. After each session, we were given 1 hour alone with God to process and pray. I was able to sit before the Lord and ask him to examine me. That time was so beautiful.
Today’s James study was powerful as well, and the time with Crystal, Tobin, and Brittany was so encouraging as always. But as usual, the enemy has plans to destroy whatever joy I find in the Lord. I walked into my apartment and something happened that caused me to unstrap Josiah from my back and sit in the floor and bawl.
So, they say that smell is the most powerful of the senses. A smell can take you back to a time and place that happened decades ago, or bring up joyful or painful memories you thought you’d long forgotten. Today, smell had a different effect on me.
First, let me say that I do not pretend to sacrifice many creaturely comforts here in BKK. David and I live in a very nice apartment, (though small), it meets all our needs. We have TV, internet, air conditioning, a washer, etc. But we also happen to live on the 4th floor, which is not very high up and directly above a sewage drain. That means that several times a week (not every day), our apartment REEKS of stank. There’s no where to hide from it and no amount of airfreshner or candles or my whining covers it up. It usually lasts until the evening, goes way, and comes back about 11pm. Well today happy Jen was skipping home from Bible study (not really because there’s a 30lb kid on my back, but in my heart I was skipping). I opened the door and the smell of sewage just knocked me over. I mean it was disgusting and made me want to gag. If I was pregnant, I would have vomited. I just sat in the floor and cried. Poor Josiah looked at me the same way David looks at me when I cry, like “Ahh I am so uncomfortable right now, please stop!” Josiah hugged me and said, “love you.” Welcome to the world of women crying, son.
I just prayed to God, “Lord, I know I have so many blessings, but why does my apartment have to stink???” Our home is supposed to become our refuge from the world, not the refuse of the world!!! I know he cares about me and my stinky apartment. I know even that small of a thing matters to him because he’s our father.
Then I felt like there was actually a purpose in the stank. I felt the Lord giving me a powerful and disgusting olfactory image of what my sin must look like before him. Now it’s one thing to read, “Our sin makes us stink before God” and try to process that intellectually. It’s another to process that concept as you’re covered in the nastiest smelling, gag-inducing stench you can imagine. How does God not vomit over me when I come to him with my pride, my selfish ambition, my critical tongue? Layers of Bible study and Godly “words” cannot mask the stink of sin.
I also live in a country where everyone is trying all day long not to stink. In a country where “winter” means temperatures in the mid 80s, and hot season means temps well into the 100s, we all walk everywhere and we all sweat all the time (at least the foreigners). Deodorant, multiple showers, lotions, etc, are our best friends.
How is it that I can be so unaware of my spiritual aroma before God and to other believers? Once again, I left Bible study with my head in the spiritual clouds, only to be brought back to the real world where the world stinks and is desperate for Christians to be different.
My Stinky House Prayer
Lord, I never want to smell the way my house smells right now before you. J I know that when I harbor sin, it is disgusting before you. Please give me a nose to smell it on myself. If I get too caught up in the world – in self-promotion, spiritual-arrogance, materialism, cynicism, jealousy, let my sin nauseate me! Let me go to the cross, the only place where I am scrubbed clean. I don’t just want to be a hearer of your word. I don’t just want to “enjoy” spiritual discussion. I want it to change me! I want the world to see, hear, and “smell” the sweet aroma of Christ in me that they are suddenly aware of their own sin – that they may run to you, Lord. Let sin absolutely disgust me, Lord and bring me to a higher standard of holiness – not so I can look down on other people or feel superior, but so I can actually love people more and give you more glory. And please let the smell in my house go away! I got the message! J