Ahhh. It’s almost here. I can smell it already. Turkey. Gravy. Mashed potatoes. Stuffing. Homemade cranberry sauce. Pumpkin pie! In just a couple of days, the aromas of Thanksgiving will fill the house.
Last year, however, the aroma that filled our house was anything but pleasing!
We were in Vermont with my parents, and preparations were being made for the big meal. Desserts were prepped, vegetables peeled, and the turkey was thawing in the sink.
At one point that morning, I was putting a dish in the dishwasher and I noticed a weird smell. “Must be a dirty dish,” I thought.
A little while later, I walked through the kitchen again and smelled the same strange odor. “Oh! It must the compost bucket,” I thought. “Yeah, that’s gotta be it.”
By midday, though, the stench had spread and was impossible to dismiss any longer. A quick conference of the adults in the house revealed that we had all been aware of the smell, but no one took the time to figure out where it was coming from. We followed our noses and, sure enough, all noses pointed to: The turkey.
Yep, it was bad. Really bad. It smelled like something died. Which was true, but apparently this bird had expired in more ways than one!
We opened the windows, lit some scented candles, and disposed of the rotten carcass ASAP.
Our senses may have been relieved, but now we had a much bigger problem: The whole extended family was still coming over for dinner and the main course was in the trash can. What in the world were we going to do?
Buy another turkey, of course!
But it was Thanksgiving Day. In rural Vermont. The local grocery store was closed and the nearest alternative was 1/2 an hour away.
As parents of three young children, Tim and I immediately saw the opportunity in this. Leave the kids with Nana and drive. Alone. For a whole hour? Sweet!
The excitement of our fun adventure was quickly met with even more disgust, though, when we got to the store, found a turkey (Yay!), and saw the price tag (Yikes!). Were we really going to pay almost $70 for a TURKEY?!?! We didn’t even have the special card to save the $4!
It was quite a sacrifice, but Thanksgiving 2014 was rescued and we enjoyed every bite of that precious poultry!
This is the time of year when we focus on the goodness of our God and all that He has provided for us. As His children, we know that gratitude – especially for what Jesus did to save us – is essential to our relationship with Him. Not only does it move our hearts toward praise, but it also keeps us from becoming self-centered in our relationships with others.
The thing is that we really do want to be thankful, and we would love for this annual ‘thankfulness boost’ to last all year!
But it never does. And that really stinks.
One of the reasons for this is that, like last year’s rotten turkey, we don’t recognize the foul stench of our own sin. Our gratefulness for what we’ve been saved from fades to bland as we dismiss the strange smells, deciding they must be coming from something (or someone) else. Or we just decide it’s not really that bad. We categorize some sins as worse than others – and then place our own sin somewhere just above average.
We don’t have God’s ‘nose’ – but if we did, we would be appalled – knocked down and overpowered by the vile odor of our mess. We can keep ignoring it all we want, but the truth is: It’s bad. Really bad.
In Amos 5, we get a whiff of an odor God really can’t stand. He says, “I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me.” (v. 21) What? How is it possible that God could hate the religious festivals and assemblies He Himself had instituted? What could be so bad about His people worshiping Him?
Jesus gives us the answer when He quotes the prophet Isaiah in Matthew 15: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”
It turns out that our loss of true, heartfelt gratitude toward God is not a thing He dismisses, ignores, or leaves at the bottom of some “list of mistakes”. Instead, the offensive fumes of our independence and self-importance rise to the top. They smell like something is dying – and that’s because it is. Those “fumes” are the very things that stifle our relationship with Him.
But there’s some great news. A “Yikes!”-size price was paid – a sacrifice was made by God Himself to replace your ungrateful, dead carcass with a new life in Him. Ephesians 5:2 says, “Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” The stench of our sin has been replaced with the pleasing aroma of Christ – not because we were really thankful for it, not because we decided to actually make the gratitude thing happen this year, but just because He did it – and we believe it.
So this year, as you experience the smells of the holiday and gobble down that Thanksgiving meal, be thankful! And then let it remind you that as a believer, you are covered, basted, and drenched with the wonderful, pure scent of Christ, no matter what!