What does your ministry smell like?

Please meet my sister, Betsy.

She loves gardening, playing tennis, the color pink, and Bath and Body Works Warm Vanilla Sugar Body Spray.  In addition to being an amazing mom, wife, Young Life volunteer and Sunday School teacher, Betsy is a nurse. Currently, she is on the faculty of the nursing school at the University of Michigan. However, anyone who knows Betsy will tell you that nursing is not only her profession, but her ministry. She is uniquely qualified to offer comfort, advocacy and mercy to patients and families who are facing frightening diagnoses. She does this willingly and lovingly.

Recently, Betsy spent time with James (not his real name), a young man who was gravely ill. Originally from another country, he is here in the US for college, and became sick while at school. Betsy quickly stepped in, visiting him at the hospital, advocating for his medical needs and providing comfort. Many times during her visits, James was sedated, seemingly unaware of her presence.

I’m thrilled to report that James is much better now, though he has a long road ahead of him. A few weeks ago, Betsy was visiting her son at the same college James attends. As Betsy and her son were sitting in his dorm room chatting, James appeared in the doorway. Grinning, he said to Betsy, “I knew you were here….I smelled you.

Even when he was unconscious, James had been aware of Betsy’s presence through God’s gift of smell.

Throughout the Bible, we read references about creating an offering with a pleasing aroma to God. I counted almost 40 Old Testament verses that specifically talk about this. And lest we think it’s “just an Old Testament thing,” consider this passage from 2 Corinthians 2:

1416In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. 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. (The Message)

With all of these references to smell, it seems that the “aroma” of what we’re doing in ministry…the essence of our service…is very important to God. Similarly, this seems to be a way to set our service to Him apart. Yesterday on the radio, I heard Chuck Colson advising parents to create a “God-scented” marriage as an example to their children. The “aroma” of relationships and ministries should be unique and recognizable to others. We’re not just “do-gooders;” rather, we are serving others as we endeavor to delight an audience of One.

And what should this “smell like?”

I’d like to think it smells like Warm Vanilla Sugar.

Have a sweet-smelling weekend~

Coming up next week: More info on drawing kids into group discussions and then a new series: Beyond Casseroles: Effective Ways to Reach Out to Families with Special Needs

1 thought on “What does your ministry smell like?

  1. Katie, I wish I have your gift of words. I truly enjoy reading your posts and this one reminds me to reflect on what I do in ministry and whether it offers “an aroma redolent with life.”

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