You know what I love?
I love when you’re watching or reading something for the 100th time, and then all of a sudden something “clicks” and it’s as though you’re seeing it brand new, with fresh eyes.
That happened to me today.
We were reading the Lazaraus story, where Jesus raises Lauzarus from the tomb after he had been dead for four days.
Now. I’m going to be really honest. Ugly honest.
I kind of rolled my eyes when I saw that this was the reading today. I mean, it’s longgggg, I was hungry, and basically, I’ve heard this story over and over again, I tend to glaze over and try and count the thread count on my jeans.
Or scrutinize my cuticle beds with sheer horror.
But today, half-listening to the reading, I was struck by something I had never really paid much attention to in the story:
When Martha, Lazarus’ sister, tells Jesus that He’s too late to save him, she says, “Lord, by now there will be a stench.” Jn 11: 1-45
Now, I’m a “smell person.” I love candles, air freshness, perfume, freshly baked cookies. I mean, I lived for a Bath & Body Works “Warm Vanilla Sugar” hand cream back in the day.
A stench? No ma’am.
And maybe that phrase stuck out to me today because I pushed the envelope and had used dry shampoo for two consecutive days and was self conscious of smelling like a troll…
But that word, stench…well, it lingered with me…
See what I did there?? 😉
But really, it got me thinking.
Now, this story obviously hits home with me for obvious reasons that I won’t bore you with. Lazarus was dead. I was nearly dead at 78 pounds with my anorexia. Jesus restored Lazarus’s life. Jesus restored my life.
You get it.
But here’s the thing that I hadn’t really considered about this whole thing.
And for a scentfully-inclined young lady, I have some thoughts.
There is definitely an odor that accompanies death. It assaults you. And much like actual physical death, there is an offensive stench that accompanies spiritual death too.
When I was “dead” in my anorexia, my stench could be smelled a mile away. Aside from the obvious skeletal body and having my hair fall out, there were also things like, isolating myself. Being angry with a micro-short fuse. Lying. Manipulating. Outbursts of venomous speech. You name it.
It was ugly. It “smelled bad.” It was the stench of death.
But the thing about the story is that Jesus worked through the stench. Four days worth of stench. He knew what He was getting Himself into.
And so too, with me.
Hearing this story today, even though it’s an “oldie,” it really does give me a lot of hope. That nothing is ever too far gone.
Four days is a long time.
I can tell you that with certainty after my mom’s stroke. Four days can feel like an eternity.
But four days is a long time, for a) the stench to develop, and b) for people to grieve. To be risen from the grave after that amount of time, it just reminds us that God is fully in control. And will not be deterred by the stench we give off in our state of death.
He’s greater than that.
All this talk of stenches and odors has made me rethink my dry shampoo situation. I’m starting to get anxiety hives. I think it’s time for me to go take a real shower.
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