My best friend told me, a long time ago, that when her dad Joe took their family on walks, he would sometimes stop and take a leaf or flower from along the way and press it between his strong and gentle fingers. Then… they could smell the aroma of whatever it was. She knew soon enough in life, that the message of “pressing” told of a greater Truth.
After the “pressing” there was a giving back; something sweet or savory that filled the air and a child’s memory, and which could not be contained. All of creation declares the glory of the Lord.
The thing is, sometimes, or more, if I erringly press myself in between the idolatrous fingers of my own effort, I’m always exhausted, and hurting, and can be… (you’ll be shocked to hear) self-centered, left staring at “me.” A poor substitute for God.
But God has His plan.
The fragrant aroma wafting up and around from what floats out of creviced and fragmented emotions requires no muscle of our own at all. When pressed, the aroma from our wounds is a sweet fragrance not only to God, but is mysteriously diffused to onlookers as well. In other words, no matter what satan or this world do to you or me, if we are in Christ and abiding, the result is glory given back to God; and somehow, it doesn’t reek of sin.
“But thanks be to God, Who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” 2 Cor. 2:14-15 NAS
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.” John 15:4 NAS
That’s how Joe pressed fragrant offerings from foliage — they had been attached to the vine. Had the offerings jumped off their source, and decided to live on their own, life expectancy would be short.
Dear Believer, how is it, in the heat of this life and its battles left seemingly half-fought and half-won, and so often poorly at that, are we able to abide and to be pressed into fragrance? How can there be a “giving back” born from no effort but the resting in God’s care? How are we not crushed beneath it all and left to perish on the trail?
Because there is a promise; His sure and victorious promise.
Andrew Murray says it as beautifully as ever a man’s hand could:
“…the abiding in Christ is just meant for the weak, and so beautifully suited to their feebleness. It is not the doing of some great thing, and does not demand that we first lead a very holy and devoted life. No, it is simply weakness entrusting itself to a Mighty One to be kept — the unfaithful one casting self on One who is altogether trustworthy and true. Abiding in Him is not a work that we have to do as the condition for enjoying His salvation, but a consenting to let Him do all for us, and in and through us. It is a work He does for us — the fruit and the power of His redeeming love. The grace to come and the grace to abide are alike from Him alone. Our doing and working are but the fruit of Christ’s work in us.” **
And then… the fragrance. There is no giving back to anyone unless and until we first give back to God, and it begins with the abiding surrender of “pressing.” He does it. His hands are strong and gentle.
And so the season for joyful melancholy and contentment is here. Like every season for the Christian, our hearts burn with mixed emotions of the past pressing into the present and around the bend of the unknown, and we surrender one more time and confidently climb into the hand and between the pressing fingers of our almighty Christ, and give back.
“…your gift will return to you in full — pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap.” Luke 6:38a NLT
** “Abide In Christ” by Andrew Murray. Whitaker House 1979