What’s That Smell?

Since moving to the country this Spring, one of the most noticeable differences has been the traffic that travels past our front door. Not only are there a lot more vehicles on Highway 75 compared to our quiet city side street, but the variety of transportation has changed as well. Jackson Street was mostly graced with cars, pickup trucks, minivans and motorcycles. Our current location sees a daily stream of all of the above, plus 18-wheelers, tractors, farm implements, straight trucks, trailered boats, campers, and more. Some move past without drawing much attention, while others offer a friendly honk, a deafening exhaust, or thundering brakes. One particularly offensive vehicle is actually not very noisy at all, but it exudes an aroma that can make you lose your lunch. The local rendering truck passes by several times each day and if we are unfortunate enough to be outside at the time, it leaves me gasping for fresh air.

There are few things that leave an aroma as pungent as a dead, rotting carcass. I remember this smell from my childhood on the farm, and recently found a dead mouse in our garage and a dead deer on the highway. Thankfully, my hero of a husband dealt with the rotting mouse and I contacted the local authorities about the deer on the highway. I was hoping the rendering truck would have stopped and picked it up, but to my surprise, the shredded animal was kindly pushed off the road into the ditch next to my mailbox.

The first day walking to get the mail was just nasty. The road was littered with blood and guts, but after the overnight rain, most of the residue was washed away. My next trip to the mailbox was awful. Not only did I have to step over a jaw bone and deer teeth mingled with the gravel, but the hot summer sun had been steaming Bambi’s remains all day and the smell was unbearable.

In case you are completely grossed out, let’s switch gears.

When gathering with several different group of kids, I asked them what their FAVORITE smell was. Among middle school girls, I got responses like: fresh baked cookies, chocolate, flowers, coffee, campfires, homemade bread, and rain. I recorded different feedback from a group of mostly farm kids. Their pick of aromas included fresh-cut silage, dirt, the smell of horses, and bacon. Certainly we can all relate to the delight of most of those scents, although some people might be repulsed by the aroma of horses or silage.

The same is true for Followers of Christ. In 2 Corinthians 2, the apostle Paul informs us that God uses us to spread the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ everywhere. I can’t imagine anything sweeter than the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ but that’s not the case for everyone. The fragrance of Christ is not an enjoyable scent for all people. Paul clarifies: “15 To God, we are the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings life; to the other, an aroma that brings death.” The Message translation puts it this way. “Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life. But those on the way to destruction treat us more like the stench from a rotting corpse.”

Which brings me to another thought… If we are in Christ, we can be confident that we are a pleasing aroma to God. We remind Him of his Son, a fragrant offering and sacrifice. But for a self-proclaimed Christian who does not walk in the way of the Lord, but has a self-righteous attitude, the Lord says these people are a stench to Him and an acrid smell that never goes away. You can read about that in Isaiah 65.

So how are you smelling? Today is a good day for a sniff-test.

Erin Jacobsma


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *