Sacrificial Aroma

Gardenia

The morning began no differently than most mornings; it was bright with a lingering chill that wouldn’t last long. I leashed my furry companion for our usual walk and was in a joyful place. As I reached the end of the short driveway, and turned toward the main road, a sweet fragrance reached my nostrils and I stopped in my tracks: He was there! My Abba Father was there with me and this beautiful aroma was His way of making himself known. The Jasmine bush was offering itself as a sweet aroma – a sacrifice to our Lord, to gain my attention.

(I addressed Him – saying my usual good morning and thanking him for such a wonderful greeting! How loved He makes me feel in the most unexpected moments…what a privilege it was to even be in His presence.)

He whispered into my ear as we walked the empty, yet not quite quiet streets of my neighborhood. By the time we returned home, my Father had given me an assignment that did not include attending church considering it was Sunday morning. It was time to do some yard work He had been urging me into for a couple of weeks. You see, I recognized that when he finally got me to be “still”, God would have something to tell me. That is just how He works in my life; that is the relationship we have. He makes me keenly aware when He has words my heart and soul need to hear. Unfortunately, as of late, I seem to need reminders to stop doing what the world expects of me, in order to follow His distinct direction.

For example, a few weeks before I’d been having some health struggles and I awoke one Monday morning fully intending to go to work and He wouldn’t let me – I was instructed to work from home that day so I could find some time to actually relax, which I don’t do easily. He proceeded to sit me in my comfy chair after a few hours of work, put a movie in front of me that had a strong message (“Ragamuffin – The True Story of Rich Mullins” if you haven’t watched it, please do.), including scenes filmed in Cincinnati, Ohio which is where I am from…then led me into His chamber and gave me a talking to!

What He had in store for me that beautiful Sunday morning, wasn’t clear. I didn’t intend to start yard work rather was led into it…starting with sweeping the car port and pulling some weeds nearby. As I stood there looking about, I realized that my gentle vine wasn’t growing along the fence line. He said, “It’s not growing because you haven’t pulled the dry, dead vine of last year off the fence yet…” And there He began. The further along the fence I went, pulling the dead vine and weeds, the heavier His presence pressing upon my heart seemed. He had used this vine in my life once before, to speak into my heart. “It’s time for you to allow me to breathe new life into you,” I heard my Father say. “This vine is a bit like you right now.”

(I don’t feel dead, God?)

“A part of you died last year. Parts of you I didn’t intend to die but it’s understandable and I know why. All you endured – so much loss, so many deserts to cross. Your flame is not burning as brightly as it once was. You’ve allowed your job to take over the areas of your life I want to dwell in. It’s time now to let me have that place. I need to bring waters of refreshing over you…that was the short rain shower I poured down on your walk last night, you know.”

(I have been tired and thirsty, needing more of you Lord…you always know!)

I stood there, tears building in my eyes as I realized just how correct He was. (Of course, He is God!) I asked him what I needed to do. “Let go…” Surrender, in other words. I thought I had been but then realized that there were things such as the stress of my job and family I hadn’t completely given up to him. Such “disobedience” is causing a Spirit of Infirmity to linger and dip its toes into the boiling water of my soul.

By the time I got to the large hedge along my driveway, He had me in a place of complete surrender. I stood there listening with heavy tears streaming down my face and a snotty nose, holding trimming shears in one hand…oh, how I had to look to my neighbors as I stood there talking to Him. Then they were upon me: My Lord’s comforting arms, always there to surround me after a gentle scolding from my Father. Three hours is about what it took for Him to guide me back onto the right path; three hours of His voice in my ears for me to completely relent and agree to some actual rest, to taking care of myself for once, so He can better work through me.

I surrender, I surrender, my spirit sang out!

As I was cleaning myself of the grime and sweat from the pruning session, one of my favorite passages (Jeremiah 17:7-10) came to mind, and He reminded me of who He is in me and I in Him. Ironically, it also sums up and resembles what I walked through over this past year, that which hardened my heart a little:

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
And whose hope is the Lord.
For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,
Which spreads out its roots by the river,
And will not fear when heat comes;
But its leaf will be green,
And will not be anxious in the year of drought,
Nor will cease from yielding fruit.

The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it?
I, the Lord, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give every man according to his ways,
According to the fruit of his doings.”

A week has since passed and I have felt the Holy Spirit’s presence heavily upon me – gently pursuing me and making me listen. Showing me where God wants me; being used as a vessel as unexpectedly as ever – which I yearn for and cherish as it’s all I long for: to be of service to Him! I am ever so grateful to know when He is speaking to me, recognizing His voice and feeling His hands lovingly hold my own.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for being the sacrificial Lamb, for accepting that cup, so that we have a place to go and hang our weariness, our defeats and our sorrows; knowing you are there offering to lighten our yoke and breathe your fragrant breath over us to get our attention and draw us in. Breathing new life into our souls. Thank you thank you, thank you. Amen!

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