“I like the way Grandpap’s house smells,” my eleven-year-old niece told me last week when I was visiting my sister. (And, yes, I survived the trip to and from town. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, read my blog, That Middle Section.)
Back to my niece…
In my mind, I walked into my father’s home and took a big sniff.
I couldn’t associate a particular smell with his house, except for a few childhood memories of the times I told my two younger sisters and brothers that they stank. But, of course, that was the result of sibling rivalry and the serious need—at their end—of a bath.
They all smell just fine now.
I looked at my niece, curious about her comment. “So, what exactly does Grandpap’s house smell like? I asked.
She smiled up at me as she bounced around the family room. “It smells like love.”
I thought again of my dad’s house. Since my mom passed away almost thirty-three years ago, he has lived alone and doesn’t do much cooking, so she wasn’t savoring the smell of cookies or a pot roast in the oven. My dad also doesn’t wear aftershave, burn candles, or use plug-in scents. I closed my eyes and again imagined myself standing in his house. I breathed in, searching for the fragrance that my niece detected. And besides the slight early-morning aroma of fresh-brewed coffee, I once again came up blank.
What in the world could she be smelling?
Then I thought about my father. A quiet man of integrity. A man who lost two babies and his wife of twenty years, yet raised five children with a steadfast, strong, and loving presence. A brave, brave man who radiates peace and a deep, serene love for his God. A man who is kind, passionate about baseball and hockey, a generous giver, and will do anything for his family.
A man after God’s own heart.
I understood more after I read 2 Corinthians 14-16.
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. (NLT)
Finally, I realized why my niece, who also loves the Lord, said that her grandpap’s house smelled like love.
Not because of a physical scent, but because of the fragrance of Jesus, which permeates every room.
Someday, I’m going to live in my Father’s house with my big God. I’ll see Jesus, feel his arms around me, taste his goodness, and hear the voice of a great multitude praising him. And when I breathe in?
His house will smell like love.