Unpleasant Odors

Life Notes—March 31, 2011

“For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light.  Live as children of light—for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true.  Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord.  Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.”  Ephesians 5:8-11 

One late spring afternoon following the last college final of the semester, I headed to southern Missouri for a camping trip with friends.  It was very dark when I arrived and I didn’t have a flashlight.  I could see the dim lights of the restrooms some distance away and started walking towards them.  About halfway there I met someone with a flashlight heading back to the camping area.  As the arc of light illuminated the area around me I discovered I was surrounded by skunks.  If not for the light I might never have known how close I was to an unpleasant encounter. 

Many times in life I’ve been very near “unpleasant surprises” without being aware, until something happened to shed light on the situation—often the perspective gained from the passage of time.  And sometimes I find I have unintentionally made things unpleasant for others; but until someone illuminates the fruits of my behavior, I continue unaware. 

When we accept Jesus as the Savior and Illuminator of our lives, light begins to shine on everything we think, say and do.  And some of those things look and smell differently when exposed to the Light.  Just believing in God puts life in a different perspective because we’ve already made the leap of relying on a being that cannot be seen or scientifically proven to exist.  So we’ve gone beyond the sensual world (some would say we’ve lost our senses) into the extra-sensual world.  When seen through the eyes of faith, the world looks different.  We begin to see actions we thought were acceptable and fun, say gossiping, are actually very harmful.  We may discover we’re surrounded by ‘skunky’ situations that look good at first, but eventually turn rancid. 

What better time than Lent to take a look at our lives through the eyes of faith?  To reflect on our words, thoughts and actions in light of scripture; or as Paul writes in his letter to the Ephesians, “Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord.”  And no, I did not get sprayed by the skunks that night.  Once I saw what was surrounding me, I changed direction.  If it looks like a skunk and smells like a skunk, it’s probably a skunk… 

This Sunday Tom is preaching downtown and Mitch will be west.  Their sermon is “Cultivating Fruitfulness: Risk-Taking Mission & Service.”  This will be the fourth in the all-church Lenten series.  Life worship is at 9:40 in Brady Hall, traditional worship in the sanctuary is at 8:30 and 11:00.  Worship at the west campus is at 9:00 and 11:00. 

Is there an unpleasant odor in your life?  Maybe it’s time for a change in direction…

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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