Amazing how profundity often bursts out of simplicity. A few days ago, my lovely buddy @signetseal came up with an expression for my presence on Twitter, she simply called it ‘Stupendous Grace Fragrance’ (SGF) and it was inspired by www. stupendousgrace.com. It evolved from mere friendly banter between good friends and inspired the post below.
2 Cor. 2:15 says Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.
When I was younger, I had an uncle who used to smoke English tobacco via a pipe; he also wore a very exotic perfume. Over time, the mix of those fragrances became etched in my subconscious as his distinct fragrance. When he visited and left, his fragrance would remain for hours. If he visited in my absence, all I had to do was walk into the living room and I could tell he had been there. I scarcely needed to ask questions, except in confirmation.
Now what is this SGF? We are the fragrance of Christ. In Him we have our gifts, grace, and comfort. To be honest, we are not the sweet fragrance; it has nothing to do with us. We are born of a corruptible nature with a sinful heart. It is the grace of God that speaks through us, the beauty of the love we have received through Christ, that excitement we can’t stay silent about, that is the essence we exude. Reminds me of how people met the disciples, interacted with them and could tell they had been with Jesus. Why? They exuded the fragrance of Stupendous Grace.
- SGF comes from us when we carry Christ. We can’t help it, we can’t force it. Yes we can grow it but it’s in us and flows to the outside rather than something we spray on just to attend a party. Have you ever met someone who ate garlic consistently, in large portions? Before long, you can perceive the garlic aroma from their sweat pores. Did they consciously choose to wear a garlic fragrance? I think not. However, they did; it flows from inside out. SGF isn’t an act, it just oozes from the inside out and we do not struggle to exude the fragrance.
- When you spray on perfume, do you realize that is a mixture of aromatic oils and several fragrances? What the base scents are depend on the designer and the desired end product. Same way that one scent, the SGF is made from the mix of our individual strengths and weaknesses. The beauty of the fragrance is that it is not about us, but even our past has evolved into the fragrance of grace we exude because we have experienced the love of God. We too have sinned and are graced to extend the love to those we meet along the way. It is beautifully same, SGF is the same fundamental scent, but yet it’s diverse.
- For each individual it is different. The essence of God’s grace wrapped in the individual’s journey is revealed by the cracking of their pots as earthenware vessels. God does not allow our pain go to waste, it is the reason we can empathize, love, and forgive. Our pain cracked our earthenware pots to reveal SGF. Those trials we hate only reveal the SGF we carry. Don’t let your past go to waste. It matters. It is the reason people can perceive a whiff of SGF when they meet us but it is not exactly the same for all of us. Some of us may be a little brash in speech like Paul, even though we are full of love and the others may be more relational like John the beloved. However, we each carry the unmistakable SGF. Our lives and journeys are different and the fragrance is released anyway. We spend so much time listening to others stories and subconsciously begin to model our lives like theirs. No, we lose time to let our SGF out when we do that.
- SGF is revealed through the process. For instance, the jasmine, saffron, lavender, vanilla et al are not originally as amazing fragrances in their original form as they end up . They all require processing and lose their original form in the process. What appears to be most important (the beautiful petals in this case) give way to what is truly important. The saffron fragrance comes from the hidden prized stamens of the small ‘Crocus Sativus’, a small flower in the Iris family. The petals are beautiful, but no, that is not where the fragrance lies. It lies in the hidden stamens. Jasmine on the other hand is derived from the flower of the fragrant jasmine plant. Regardless, both of them do not do much good fragrance wise in their original forms. They need to be twisted and turned, grinded and blended, somewhat painfully to extract the value inherent in their natural make up. What’s most important is more sustainable too; the petals shrivel and die but the fragrance extracted from it far outlives the petals in their original form.
- This very Stupendous Grace Fragrance is not constant. The closer we are to the perfumery and the more time we spend there, the stronger the fragrance we carry. When my pipe smoking uncle visited, the fragrance was very strong the first day but it always faded away slowly. If I wanted the fragrance to remain around my person, I was better off staying in his company. Yes, SGF is not constant; it is not a one off whiff. The closer we stay to God and the more time we spend relating with Him, the stronger our fragrance becomes and the longer it lingers. Although my uncle didn’t smoke at ours, he carried the fragrance everywhere he went. Same way, SGF does not derive from speaking Christianese; it is a reflection of exposure to the source. Habitual interaction with the source shows!
- SGF does more than cause one to smile in appreciation, it inspires hope. Just as a sweet scent may inform us that there are beautiful flowers just beyond our sight, so this SGF suggests that there is much more to us than the tangible that people can see. It inspires hope of the greatness of God and the beauty of His love.
We want to be beautiful glazed and polished pots. We want to be painted, admired and displayed on a safe shelf. But that’s not God’s way of producing His precious fragrance. SGF is revealed through the cracks. Please, don’t hide the cracks in the clay. That’s the only way to let out the fragrance. I’ve wondered why God doesn’t use fine English ware or the fine Chinaware. Remember how your mum would rant and rave if you broke her lovely Chinaware? Little wonder it usually sits in the cupboard until befitting guests visit. God too chooses to use and honor a weak, broken piece of pottery like you and me. How is the pot? Are you so concerned with trying to protect your ‘rep’? Are you huddling over it and offering a sense of protection? Have you placed it on a shelf trying to guard it? There is a better way. Take it off the shelf, and let God crack it with the everyday pressures of life. Let the LORD God take your life and use it to His glory, His way. There is no sweeter smell than the smell of grace in Christ Jesus, and it is you and I that are the recipients of that grace.
Oh how beautiful it will be if we exuded this Stupendous Grace Fragrance every day.