Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Fragrance (10/24/05)
TITLE: Soap Won't Do
By Rachel Burkum
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….Despite my efforts to douse my own foul odor with perfume and hairspray, I knew as I walked down the sidewalk that I’d provide great company for a skunk. No one seemed to mind though. Apparently they had the same problem I did or their noses had malfunctioned. Either way, I seemed to be safe. But it didn’t take away from the shame that had been buried deep within myself. I’d figured out long ago where my smell had come from. But despite my knowledge, I’d just piled on my wrong doings, until the stench had increased to the point where I had begun to hate myself. Every night I had come home late after countless lies to my boss, trips to the bar, or “good times” with the guys, no amount of showering could ever get me clean. I trudged down the sidewalk, inwardly wallowing in my misery.
….Suddenly, my nose caught a strong scent. It wafted on the morning breeze, blowing past my nostrils as if mocking me. The fragrance was as sweet as spring flowers - a scent my heart ached for. I stopped in my tracks and glanced all around, trying to find its origin. Had someone sprayed such a strong perfume in the air? Surely there were those as desperate as me. But as I looked around, I saw no one. I was alone, surrounded only by buildings. Again, the fragrance caressed my face, begging me to find where it had come from.
….I shrugged off the passing thought that I was going crazy, and headed into the breeze. The farther I walked, the stronger the scent grew until I found myself standing in front of a church. Its doors wide open, it beckoned me with its sweet smell, enveloping my senses. Cautiously, I mounted the stairs and slipped into the foyer. I could see into the next room where a preacher stood at his pulpit, speaking to a group of people. My nose was so ecstatic with the all too infrequent pleasantness, that I longed to stay. Taking a whiff of myself, I wondered if I’d be thrown out.
….But as I sidled into a pew next to a well-dressed elderly woman, I was greeted with a warm smile. Did she not notice I reeked? I breathed in deeply through my nose, and realized that those sitting around me were the origin of the fragrance - not the building itself. So how had they rid themselves of the vile smell I’d always possessed?
….My attention was diverted to the preacher’s words, and I was immediately drawn into the message. “Be cleansed,” he said. “Be forgiven. Accept Christ as your Savior and live only for Him. Rid yourself of the stench born of your sins.”
….The stench born of my sins? Of course, I knew that was it. I needed to change, and needed to do it before it was too late. Perhaps I was finally ready to admit I couldn’t cleanse myself on my own.
….That day, I didn’t bathe with more soaps and shampoos. Instead, I was washed in the blood of the Lamb and forgiven of my sins. Never before had I felt so clean and so alive. Where once I hadn’t been able to stand myself, now I could breathe deep the cleansing scent of salvation. I hadn’t needed bleach. I had needed Jesus.
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