You’ve seen this meme before, right? Well, it does sometimes feel like a superpower to have a tiny human growing inside of you. Last week, she was the size of a plum, this week a peach. (That’s right, folks, I said she!)
But you know what my real superpower is these days? Smell.
Worst. Superpower. Ever. If you are wearing cologne, I will know it before you even enter my house. If there is some organize thing decomposing within 500 feet, my nose will lead me to it. I can tell what you ate for lunch when you are standing across the room. Marrett is already asking if I can help him hunt pheasant this fall.
This superpower backfires on me pretty often, like Sunday morning, when I woke up the smell of bacon cooking. For normal persons, that is a delightful smell. But for someone in possession of a champion nose like mine, it’s akin to kryptonite, overwhelming your senses until you can’t see straight and feel weak in the knees (and stomach).
I rushed out of the house that morning, only to get to church and be assaulted by further noxious odors. An entryway that smelled like Raid (I don’t even want to know). A moldy tea bag in my mug from Wednesday. Every member’s cologne/perfume/deoderant/hairspray as they hugged me in congratulations over our expected child.
But there was one smell that was holy, even as it turned my stomach. The wine on the altar was positively fuming this week. As I tried not to inhale, I suddenly remembered Paul’s words from Second Corinthians: “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads in every place the fragrance that comes from knowing him. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.”
What fragrance do the people of God give off? Does it smell like the wine or bacon did to me that morning, driving people away with its stench? Is it sweet like summer clover, lulling you to sleep as you breath deeply? Or is it subtle and complex like a whiff of rare perfume that draws you in and makes you want to ask a million questions?
It depends on the community, of course, but in my community this week, I paid attention to the smells we gave off. Honestly, how could I not with my overactive olfactory organ?!
On Sunday night, the body of Christ smelled distinctly of homemade pickles, the signature dish of Vacation Bible School dinners, which fed over 400 people this week, members and non-members alike. On Monday, it smelled of cardboard boxes, rubber erasers, and pencil lead as I surveyed the supplies that will enable 9200 children all over the world to attend class with the supplies they need. Tuesday, the aroma of Christ was on the lemonade-scented breath of children who shouted about Jesus’ gifts of love, courage, and hope at Vacation Bible School. And more poignant of all, on Wednesday it smelled of hospice-bed cleanliness and the dying breath of a soul poised on the precipice of eternity.
This pregnancy nose is something of a gift after all, for without I’d never have noticed most of these smells. But the gift for which I’m most grateful is a body of Christ with such a pleasing and life-giving aroma as the one into which I will baptize the new life growing inside me.