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Re-Gifting the Fragrance of Forgiveness

The fragrance of forgiveness

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” -Mark Twain

Fragrances during the Christmas season can evoke a mix of emotions, even unexpected ones. One whiff of vintage vinyl and I become ten years old all over again, upstairs in my grandmother’s house where we played Johnny Mathis and Bing Crosby. Or the scent of firewood freshly split for the woodburning fireplace transporting me back to a house filled with love, laughter, and impromptu family concerts in the den.

The sense of smell is a powerful sensory.

In fact, it’s the most sensitive of the whole bunch. Perhaps this is why Mark Twain’s quote catches my heart every time. Sometimes it’s my heel that tramples on another. And then there are times when I must be the one to release the fragrance of forgiveness because of the bruised and imprinted heel marks left on my own life. Just as the violet doesn’t decide as to whether or not it should forgive the heel that stepped upon it, neither do I.

 

For how could I, a forgiven soul through the fragrance of Christ, even consider withholding it from another?

 

Christmas cookiesThere seems to be a spot divinely embedded in the heart that softens at Christmas, offering unique opportunities to forgive even the smallest of offenses. People attend a Christmas Eve services, send cards, bake cookies, visit neighbors and nursing homes, etc. The list goes on!

 

Below are a few ideas on ways we can practice the art of re-gifting the fragrance of forgiveness this year:

 

  • Re-gifting the fragrance of forgiveness happens when we first forgive ourselves. Much like the gift of grace, we cannot give to others what we ourselves do not possess. If we are in Christ, we do possess forgiveness⎯but embracing it for ourselves often proves to be more difficult than offering it to others. {Or at least that’s what I’ve found to be true in my own life.} Poor choices I made years ago still quicken tears in my eyes more often that most know, but at the core of my sadness, I know that God, through Christ, has forgiven me for those past sins. It’s only because of my confidence in Christ that I can move forward in joy. And you can, too. Need a little reminder today of God’s gift of forgiveness toward you? Savor His words found in 1 John 1:9, Isaiah 43:25,26, Acts 3:19, Isaiah 1:18, etc.
  • Re-gifting the fragrance of forgiveness happens through simple, thoughtful gifts. If you know that you’ve offended or hurt someone in your circle of life, take a few moments to write a note and attach it to a plate of cookies. Leave it on their doorstep and let your written words open the door to future conversations.
  • Re-gifting the fragrance of forgiveness happens when you forgive someone else before they even ask for it. This goes beyond the realm of what’s expected but isn’t that what Jesus did at every turn? You can forgive them quietly in your heart or by extending your forgiveness through a card or letter. Not sure where to begin? Dayspring offers biblical greeting cards that will help get you started. Sometimes that’s all we need, right? If the person in need of forgiveness has passed, write a letter to him/her. Then throw it away or burn it, symbolizing the release that’s taken place within.

This Christmas, and every day, may we be the fragrance of Christ through the way we love, serve, and forgive others. When others see, hear, and rub shoulders with us, may they catch a whiff of the costliest, most extravagant fragrance of all.

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us triumphantly in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him.” 2 Corinthians 2:14

Who needs Chanel Coco Noir Eau de Parfum under the tree when the sweetest fragrance of all lies within us?

Is there a particular scent that evokes a past memory for you at Christmastime? Please share!

 

Week 1: Re-gifting the Gift of Grace

Staying in Step with the Spirit Via A Knock at the Door

by Cathy Baker

{ Day 22 } 

A Syrian father gathered up his two young children, both under the age of 12. He told them there would soon come a day when they would hear a knock at the door, and that those people (ISIS) would be there to harm their family.

He told them that when they open the door, they will say to the men Jesus is King and I forgive you. The father assured them that even though the pain would hurt for a little while, they would all be together again in heaven for an eternity. 
Only weeks later, there was a knock at the door. Jesus the King was proclaimed. The men were forgiven by the family. The entire family was slaughtered.

As this story was shared a few Sundays ago (told to our pastor by the uncle of these children) I couldn’t help but wonder if I could possibly be that brave, knowing that one rap on the door would mean certain death for my family. 

Brave enough to be that honest with my young children.
Brave enough not to run and hide.
Brave enough to answer the door.  

Our Lhasa Apso half-way under the couch.

Unfortunately, my actions tend to resemble Rupert’s, our Lhasa Apso. I may not bury my head beneath an Ikea sofa but it’s buried nonetheless. Distractions, ignorance, and don’t forget my rose-colored glasses. Sigh.

I want to be brave—I really do—and yet too often I don’t speak up, or stretch my hospitality muscles, or do a hundred other things to prove it.

The above family’s boldness is on a whole different level than what most of us face on a a daily basis. And yet, the truth is, a day is coming when we, or our future generations, may need to gather up the children and explain how one day soon they will hear a knock at the door. 

The question is, will we be brave? 

Staying in Step with the Holy Spirit: Truth and boldness go hand-in-hand. The more we know God, the closer we draw to Him, giving us divine courage exactly when we need it. 

Heavenly Father, bless this uncle for sharing his story. That act alone required bravery! Surround him and the remaining family members with Your presence, love, and mercy. Boost our bravery that we might live boldly for Christ Jesus. Help us not to fear the knocks at our door, but to see each and every rap as an opportunity to proclaim Jesus as King. 

Do you consider yourself to be brave and daring? How has knowing God’s Word helped these qualities to emerge in your life? 

Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews. Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus.The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. 
Acts 11:19-21
#Write31Days past posts:

{ Day 1 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via Our Senses
{ Day 2 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via Less Clutter 
{ Day 3 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via Healthy Relationships 
{ Day 4 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via God’s Creation
{ Sunday }
{ Day 6 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via Specific Prayer 
{ Day 7 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs
{ Day 8 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via A Soul Search (with guest Ginger Harrington)
{ Day 9 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via Vulnerability 
{ Day 10 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via God’s Creation, Wk. 2
{ Day 11 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via A Moonlit Sunroof
{ Sunday }
{ Day 13 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via A Wild Goose Chase 

{ Day 15 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via A Paper Bookmark
{ Day 16 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via A Fresh Start
{ Day 17 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via Spontaneous Service
{ Day 18 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via God’s Creation, Wk. 3
{ Sunday } 
{ Day 20 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via A Mini-Getaway

Forgiveness with a Hint of Violet

 

by Cathy Baker 

Be careful what you proclaim. 

Within a brief time period last year, I distinctly remember hearing myself repeat the same eight words at least three times: “I’m not easily offended. I’m thick-skinned.” I couldn’t help but wonder if my repeated proclamation might come back to taunt me.

For several years, I served on a programming team for a past church where six to eight people, along with the pastor, met on Tuesday afternoons to throw out numerous ideas for our services, stages, and series. If you didn’t have thick skin, you’d either (1) never share original ideas or (2) run out the door after someone crunched your toes through unintentional criticism. Not being overly sensitive continues to help in the writing realm as well. How else can I grow without honest feedback? 

These experiences bolster my ability to allow concrete words to crumble before ever reaching my heart—that is, when they’re expected. It was when hurt showed up as an unexpected guest knocking at the back door that my thick-skinned proclamation was tested and deemed a failure. 

This particular “testing” didn’t come in the form of a curt word or action, but rather, an overall sense that something just wasn’t right between us. This person had (nor has) any idea that she tested my thick skin and won. I’m usually quick to slam the door on the enemy’s ability to wedge himself between Christ followers but this time I sensed I needed to remain silent. It was something I needed to work through,not her. Regardless, forgiveness was released—for her, and also for myself, as God revealed how I’d contributed to my own testing. 

The heel that strikes the violet is oft unaware of its misstep—and so are we. 

At times, we’ll be the one to unknowingly tread upon another, and vice versa. The question is, when this happens, will we choose to diffuse the fragrance of Christ in the form of forgiveness or not? If a violet can do it, surely we can too.

“When it is just me who has been wronged,
my lips should most often be silent.
And I must see to it in the hidden person of the
heart there is always the gentleness of Christ.
Words of complaint can be so destructive.
Let this be my rule: Silence, unless the reason for
speech, still bear the searchlight of Eternity.”
-Amy Carmichael, His Thoughts Said… (Joni’s Favorite Quotes)

FORGIVENESS: 30 Days of Wonder Challenge

 

DAY 6: FORGIVENESS

Unforgiveness holds us back from fully experiencing God’s wonder. Sometimes the hardest person to forgive is yourself. Take fifteen minutes to prayerfully consider any things for which you’ve had a hard time forgiving yourself. Record them on a blank sheet of paper. Then take a few moments to forgive yourself for each one. 

After you forgive yourself, rip up the sheet of paper as a sign of keeping no record of wrongs. Allow yourself to celebrate the forgiveness God offers you through Jesus. You are a wondrous child of God! Spend some time thanking God for the way he created you and the redemptive work he’s doing in your life, and walk in the wonder of forgiveness.

– Margaret Feinburg, Wonderstruck

Trading Bitterness for Blessings

I’d not passed it in months.
Now I pass it every Sunday morning.
“It” is the church we left under difficult circumstances in 2008.
It was a church we loved.

When we drove away that April morning, our Christ-knit “family” wasn’t the only thing left behind. The dust cloud also included my dream job and creative ministries I loved, so to say the departure was difficult would be a vast understatement.

And yet…I’m reminded every time I pass the church that, although we now differ theologically, there’s no doubt that it’s full of people who know, love, and pursue Christ— and for that, I rejoice. 

I believe it was Charles Stanley who said you know you’ve completely forgiven someone when you can pray God’s blessings for them, and I believe this to be true. Don’t believe me? Try it.
 
Now, when I pass by each Sunday morning, I pray wisdom, discernment, and blessings for their staff and the body. I desire God’s best for them.

Does a twinge of disappointment remain? Absolutely. But I’ll take that twinge over the lasting sting of bitterness any day. 

Am I alone here? Perhaps there’s a family member, friend, co-worker, pastor, or church body that needs you to trade in your bitterness for blessings. You’ll both be blessed and God will be glorified through your obedience. Go for it!

 
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and
anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind
and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in
Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32


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