Monday, June 10, 2013

Holy Spirit Word Study - Romans 15:16

...Be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:16b (NIV)

Among my many allergies, I am allergic to fragrances. My reaction to fragrances ranges anywhere from mild congestion to headaches to full blown asthma attacks. Consequently, since childhood, I have maintained as fragrant-free an existence as possible. Some years ago, I was blessed to journey my way through a prayer walk with a small group of friends where each stop led us to experience God through one of the five senses – taste, touch, sight, sound, and smell. When I got to this last one, I was encouraged to take a cotton ball and soak it in scented oil and inhale deeply as if breathing in the very Spirit of God. I could have skipped this because of my allergy, but I felt God calling me to try it. I think that it was my lack of experience with fragrance that made this moment so profound for me. What I found so amazing was the way the sweet smell of the fragrance lingered in my nostril. Long after I left that station, I could breathe in deep and still the faint aroma of the scented oil which represented my time in God's presence was with me. With each breath, the lingering presence of the Holy Spirit filled me with peace and joy. As I gathered with my friends in a final prayer after the prayer walk, I could detect, not only my own time with the Spirit, but the leftover scent of their time with the Spirit mingling with mine and surrounding us. The sensation of the Holy Spirit's presence at that moment was overwhelming.

Like Moses whose face shone with the radiance of God after being in His presence, so too, we bring something of God away with us from our intimate time with the Lord. As we pray and read the bible, when we praise Him and reach out in mission and mercy to others in His name, we find ourselves in God's immediate presence. His Spirit, which lives within us, makes our lives a holy offering and those seeking God's peace can't help but sense His presence in us. The Spirit sanctifies, and is sanctifying us, as He guides us in the will of God. As we follow His leading, He makes us living gospels for the world to read, just as if they were reading the words on the pages of a bible. And when we come together in a group, each with our own unique lingering fragrance of God's presence, the reality of His existence is undeniable, overwhelming, and inviting to a world of people in need of his grace.

One last thing – the scented oil I inhaled on the prayer walk communicated a profound spiritual truth which I will always treasure, but it also gave me a really bad headache. Perhaps it was just God's way of reminding me that just because He calls me to it, doesn't mean it isn't going to be difficult for me. God never said following Him was going to be easy or tranquil. It doesn't lead to fame and fortune or being debt-free. Jesus had no place to lay His head and promised His followers trouble, and even persecution, and that includes His 21st century disciples as well. Following God may often leave me with a headache, or tired and sweaty, or maybe even limping, but the joy and peace of His presence and the gift of His grace far outweigh the pain of discipleship.


Audrey said...

Your comment about Jesus never saying that following him would be easy made me pause and think. Many times I (and many others) want to believe (and are often told) that following him will be easy. When it isn't and life throws one of those inevitable hard times in my path, it is much too easy to feel that somehow my faith has let me down. But, He doesn't promise us an easy life...what he does promise us is a life that matters to ourselves and others if we follow Him. Living life the way He wants is hard work, and I have a lot of hard work ahead of me in life.
Thanks again for sharing a part of yourself with me!

Green Grandma said...

As someone sensitive to fragrances and chemicals, I can totally relate, Maureen. The spiritual truths you drew out of the experience are profound. Thank you for the reminder that even amidst the sweet fragrance of Jesus, there will be circumstances threatening to steal our peace.