I love to bake and decorate cakes and other pastries. I love the processes of designing, watching all the ingredients come together in the mixer bowl, baking it and watching it rise in the oven, molding and forming the cake and frosting into whatever my design is- or as close to it as I can get! But, one of my favorite parts has to be the smell. The chocolate-butter-flour-vanilla-fruit-warm sugar smell of cakes and pastries. The whole process would just be much flatter and uninteresting without the smell. In fact, I can spend all day baking, get it all cleaned up and put away, and my husband can still tell, just by the smell in the kitchen that I have been baking.
Similarly, as Christians, we are called to have a ‘smell’. And we all do- either a good one or a bad one. A smell is either enticing or off-putting. And what is our smell? It is our heart- what we are doing to others- the light that we are showing to others. The sweetest smell of a dish happens when it is put in the oven. That is where the chemical transformations take place; where the individual ingredients are changed and made into something new and wonderful.
And we must go through the oven to really have a good smell. We must be willing to step out of our comfort zone to help someone else; to give sacrificially of our time and lives, in order to complete the change within us; in order to help us to become what God is willing us to be- a sweet aroma to Him, of Him.
It’s not enough to merely know all the ingredients or have them. A cake batter does me no good before its baked. It’s just shapeless goo.
A life where this is wonderfully illustrated is in A Radiance on the Gulag, a book about Nijole Sadunaite- a Lithuanian Catholic exiled to Siberia in the 1970’s for her faith.
“Since Nijole’s suffering became known by various Christian organizations in the West, a large number of believers knew of her plight. Consequently, Nijole received many care packages while she was in exile. Although it was against the law, the Communist guards made her pay to receive these packages. Prisoners in exile had to work and they received a starvation wage of 75 rubles a month. Their housing cost 20 rubles, and the prisoners were made to pay sometimes over 45 rubles to accept any packages sent to them. But time after time, Nijole accepted these packages, paid for them, and then re-packaged them and mailed them to Christians in other parts of the Soviet bloc when she believed where suffering worse than she was. The Communist guards and postal officials could not make any sense out of this. It was a kindness and a sacrifice that utterly dumbfounded them. One time, some girls who were members of the Communist youth organization questioned Nijole about her strange behavior. Nijole replied that she wanted to help her impoverished brothers and sisters in Christ who were suffering. And the girls asked her, if we were ever put in jail, and you learned of it, would you send us you care packages? And Nijole replied, “Of course, if I knew your address.”
That is a beautiful, sacrificial love, an aroma that you know even when you walk into an empty kitchen. It’s a wonderful, freeing thought. I don’t have to worry whether or not I have the words to tell someone something- all I have to do it show them love. They’ll know. If they want to know more, they’ll ask.
Thank You Jesus for the wonderful example of love You are for us, and for the wonderful aroma You are through us!!! It is an honor to show Your compassion to others.