It was the dull, dusty scent of mouldering leaves mounded in gutters. More than that, there was the constant bite of woodsmoke from a thousand fires warding off the autumn chill. Those icy fingers beckoned to the unwary, saying, "Soon, soon my sister winter shall be here."
Susan shuddered and shrank deeper into her coat, smelling the mothballs of its summer exile in her aunt's closet. She dreamed of springtime, when she would once more smell lilies and forsythia and feel God's glory.
"This is the best time of the year," thought Joseph, smelling the earthy fragrance of newly fallen leaves beneath his feet. More leaves -- some red, some yellow, some brown -- spiraled down to join the piles, gently protecting the grass from the coming snows. He danced around a burning pile of leaves, feeling the ghostly tendrils of smoke caressing his cheeks and bringing brief, brilliant tears to his eyes. Licking flames promised a season of lazing by the fireplace, watching frost etch windows as God lovingly erased another year, preparing the way for another more vibrant than the last.
The same leaves, the same smoke, the same seasons spoke to Susan and Joseph that fall day. Yet the message was different.
The Apostle Paul was acutely aware of the way circumstances can alter the message of Christ. "But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him," Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 2:14.
He recognized there would be days when our message fell on deaf ears or, worse, created anger, dissension and despair.
"For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing," he continued. "To the one, we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?"
That can be the most frustrating thing about being a Christian. We learn, gradually, to take the risk of speaking about our Lord. We try to put His teachings into practice. Then we look for results.
Often, instead of seeing our friends and co-workers following us to church and praising God, we see their eyes glaze over or suffer their disdain. And no, we do not feel equal to the task.
But like the leaves and the smoke, we are what we are -- the aroma of Christ. It is not up to us to present a fragrance they will like. Just one that they will remember, in God's perfect time.
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But like the leaves and the smoke, we are what we are -- the aroma of Christ. It is not up to us to present a fragrance they will like. Just one that they will remember, in God's perfect time God simply asks our ongoing faithfulness to Him, the planting of those seeds of truth, the watering of the seeds planted by another's obedience. He, and He alone is Lord of the harvest! I don't think I'll ever look at autumn leaves quite the same again ... a marvelous time of the year, captured so powerfully by your pen. God bless.