At our church, we have a yearly tradition called A Feast for our Friends. The whole church body comes together on the Sunday evening before Thanksgiving to prepare and deliver meals to members of our community who are not going to have a regular holiday meal. It is a time of chaos! We laugh, we sing, we make a big mess, and we have the most fun of the entire year.
Each generation of our church comes together to work in an assembly line to cook the food, fill the plates, pack the carrying cases, and deliver the food. We take food to people in local jails, family members waiting at the hospitals, older people, shut-ins, folks in shelters of all kinds, plus the workers at each place.
It is amazing to see our kids, our youth, and the oldest members of our congregation pull together to accomplish this huge task. We are considered a small church, yet, we usually have anywhere from 50-100 people working on this day. It is a humbling, life-changing experience every year.
And each year I learn a big lesson! One year, my lesson occurred when one of our smaller members, Ana, said the most profound thing.
As we cooked the vegetables on the gas flames of our stove, an older man yelled out to check the veggies because he smelled fire. Ana quietly told those of us in the kitchen that it was NOT the fire he smelled.
“Fire does not smell; whatever thing the fire burns is what smells,” she stated matter-of-factly.
Now, that may not strike you as profound, but it blew me away! It also reminded me of a couple of things. First of all, it is not the fire of life’s trials that people will recognize in your life; it is what is burned away by those fiery trials of life.
When God uses tough times to shape and form us, people won’t remember the tough things as much as they will notice how we handle those times. They will also notice the changes that God brings about in us during our tough times, as He burns away the dross of our lives in His refining fire.
Next, my young friend’s comment made me aware that the sins I commit are what God says stink in my life, rather than the circumstances or the people on which I blame them. My faults are my own, and God finds every sinful thing I do and say contaminated by the smell of that sin – unless I obtain the washing and regeneration of the blood of His Son Jesus.
Yes, my little friend taught me a lot in her one simple statement. I learned that fire does not smell, but sin stinks as God gets it out of my heart and my life. And during this precious Thanksgiving season, I was reminded to say thanks for the Rose of Sharon. He is the only sweet-smelling aroma in my life.
Psalm 51:17 – The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Ephesians 5:2 – And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.