The first time it occurred I thought it was Fred walking to the sauna.
Fred is this big, jovial guy I’ve met at the gym. He’s lots taller than me, three times as wide, but it works on him, and has the kindest smile. Once as he walked by me after his shower this fragrance flowed over me. “Man,” I said, “You smell good!” Fred laughed and thanked me.
My newest son has his own fragrance channel on YouTube, which is the only reason I am even aware of fragrances. But Fred definitely smelled good.
But, then another time it happened. I stopped swimming and smelled the sweet fragrance which had seemed to have flowed over the whole 25 meter pool.
I went back to swimming and marveled at this sweetness, this beautiful sweetness. I couldn’t smell the chlorine. I could only smell this wildly sweet fragrance.
A smile came to my lips as I swam.
“What is this, Jesus?”
Another time it happened, Fred was in the pool too, seated on the steps. So, I paused next to him to see if he was bringing his own sweet fragrance to the pool. But not that day. No fragrance came from him. So, I asked, “Fred, do you smell anything at the pool, like a sweet fragrance?”
“Nope,” he said, smiling. Fred’s smiles light up his face.
“Really?” I said. “Man, I smell the sweetest fragrance ever. Must be Jesus.” I told him. He laughed and said, “Well, okay. I’m really okay with that.”
“Good, Fred. So am I. So am I.”
I went back to swimming still smelling the fragrance.
It has happened several intermittent times, at this point. Time and again, I am met by this sweet fragrance while swimming.
Once, in the pool by myself, there it was again. There was no one else in the pool. No one in the sauna or steam room. Just this overwhelming fragrance.
Sure, it might be someone spraying a whole bottle of fragrance in one of the locker room areas, but if that’s the case, you would think the whole gym would smell like it. Yet, the only place I have ever smelled this fragrance, except when Fred walked passed me that day in the locker room, is while in the water.
This scripture came to mind:
But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?2 Corinthians 2: 14-16
The sweet aroma of Christ.
Since all of the Old Testament utilized a sacrificial system filled with some amazingly pleasing aromas, it makes sense Paul would make this connection. Jesus spreads the aroma of who He is through us. I’ve encountered children, who experienced mighty spiritual rescues, and spoke of the beautiful smell of angel’s wings. There are heavenly fragrances. But, seldom have I ever encountered such a fragrance until these times at 24-Hour Fitness.
Years back, a friend of mine found someone had left an open bottle of perfume on the silver shelf above the sink in the women’s restroom at work. The lid was sitting beside it. So, just to be helpful, she picked up the bottle to put on the lid. But, somehow, the bottle slipped from her hands. To her shock, as if in slow motion, she watched as the bottle spun on its way to the black and white tiled floor. As it shattered, perfume splattered onto her pants and shoes.
“Oh no!” she exclaimed. She told me later, “The bathroom smelled like a French brothel.” I don’t imagine she had ever been in one; you get the picture.
She worked to clean up the shattered bottle and perfume. She grabbed for paper towels, wiped the perfume from the floor and gathered the tiny pieces of glass. In the process, that sweet, powerful scent got on her hands and onto the bottom of her shoes, until she smelled like Mary, in Scripture, after breaking open the bottle of pure nard and pouring it onto Jesus’ feet, wiping it with her hair.
She went back to work in her office smelling like a perfume shop. Everyone who stepped into her room that afternoon gagged a bit — like when cooking jalapeños on the stove — then sought to “carry on with business as usual”. She told her story again and again to waylay their fears or thoughts! Her bus ride home was a whole new experience with the fragrance she brought with her.
Like my friend with the perfume, in the pool I encountered an unmistakable fragrance. It was powerful. May the fragrance of Jesus be as powerful through my life, your life. May our lives bring the unmistakable fragrance of love, the powerful fragrance of grace, the beauty of mercy, the sweetness of hope. Right?
In the mediation room once, a man overflowed passionately about how he had not seen such a sweet fragrance of Christ expressed through his in-laws. “All I wanted was to see you just be present, just be loving, just be open to your daughter!” It was a poignant moment. This is what the world longs to experience. “They will know you are Christians by your love,” Jesus told us.
“Jesus, are you just messing with me?” I asked one day while swimming.
He just chuckled.