Peter and I got married while I was still in College. He had graduated from Seminary and I had a few years left, so he found a job at a little Presbyterian Church down a winding road twenty minutes from Asbury. Those people became some of our dearest friends and to this day, when we are feeling discouraged or disoriented in our lives, we seek out those friends who have loved us and encouraged us and cheered for us relentlessly.
This morning I was thinking of a dear lady, Sally, who went to be with Jesus earlier this year. Let me tell you about Sally. She was spunky. She was a little thing . . . so little that her husband, Whitney, built her a little stool so she could sit in the pew at church and rest her feet on something. She was a teacher to her core– it didn’t matter that she hadn’t officially taught for years– she was always teaching. If you’ve heard Peter preach, you’ll notice he doesn’t end his sentences in a preposition. That’s because Sally took him aside one Sunday after he preached and taught him the proper grammar his Preaching Professors had overlooked.
Most of all, Sally loved Jesus.
One summer, Crawford (a little boy then, now a college freshman!) came up to Peter and asked him a question. “Mr. Peter,” he said, “What does Heaven smell like?”
I love my husband so much, because he took that question seriously. He didn’t laugh it off as some childish inquiry. He researched it and sat Crawford down and really talked to him about it. For some reason, that question has always stuck in my head.
Have you ever thought about what Heaven smells like?
Sally once told me the story of a lady she went to visit weekly. The lady wasn’t too keen on Sally coming to visit her, but Sally was part of a group of people in her “Winter Church” in Florida that would go out to care for those who couldn’t get out on their own. The lady would hardly talk to Sally and was very bitter and hardened by life. Week after week, Sally would go to her house and sit with her, but it didn’t seem to be doing any good.
And then, one week, Sally bought some lotion. She went to her woman’s house and asked her, “Would you mind if I rub some of this lotion into your hands?” The lady nodded, and so Sally proceeded to rub her gnarled hand with her lotion. Each week, she’d ask the same question, “Would you mind if I rub some lotion into your hands?” and each week she’d gently work the lotion into those hands. Slowly, the woman became a friend to Sally.
Sally was the aroma of Christ. She was the fragrance of life.
Don’t we need that fragrance in our lives!? If I’m going to heal from this grief, I have to have others surrounding me, rubbing the healing balm of Jesus into my soul. I need encouragement and prayers and simple reminders that I’m not alone.
But it can’t stop there. Because if I’m going to heal, I also need to be that fragrance to others. Reaching out to the downtrodden and tired, weak and weary. This grace I’ve received is not only for me to take and hoard– it is a gift to be shared.
So what does Heaven smell like?
I think it smells like us– you and I– doing this walk of life together.
It’s the hurt caring for the hurt.
It’s the obedience in answering the small whispers from Jesus.
It’s giving when I feel like I have nothing to give.
It’s pushing away the pride and allowing others to encourage my heart.
It smells like lotion from the hands of one to the hands of another.
It smells like Grace.