Tuesday, December 18, 2012

I Still Smell You Long After You Are Gone

Like many people, I have allergies, especially to scents. Whether it be perfume, cologne, aftershave, or household cleaners, they all affect me the same way. When I've come in contact with an allergen my face and neck flush, my eyes water, my pallet itches, I sneeze and cough and generally feel pretty miserable. And sometimes, if it has been a particularly severe attack, and I can't get my sinus' clear, it will develop into a full blown sinus attack which usually lasts about a week. 

If you've never had a problem with allergies then you probably don't understand the panic that can hit you when you catch a whiff of perfume in the air. You quickly look around to see if you can tell who might be wearing it so you can be on your guard to stay clear of them. But most of the time you can't tell and its not until after you've been hugged by that person that you say to yourself 'oh boy, here we go again!' 

I recently attended a morning coffee break at a church and yes, I hugged one too many people. After the nice smelling person left me, I realized that I could still smell her perfume. I had been seated at the time and she was standing when she bent over to hug me. In doing so my face came in contact with the side of her neck, so when she left me her perfume was still on my face. That little, innocent hug, that small amount of contact, that friendly gesture caused me to spend a week on decongestants, allergy pills and feeling miserable. 

But something good did come out of that episode. The Lord reminded me of how even the smallest amount of contact can affect people for eternity. It made me ask myself how am I rubbing off on people. Is my life, my walk with God, affecting them at all? I sure hope it is. The Bible tells us to let our light shine before all men so that they can see our Father in us. I once mentioned in a ladies Bible study meeting that as Christians we need to live a life of integrity in even the smallest things. As an example, I said that when I go into a store and pick something off of the shelf, if I then change my mind and no longer want it, I make sure I put it back in the same spot so that a stock boy doesn't have to work harder because of me. I didn't think that was even much of a teaching moment, I just automatically do it, but just the other day a lady in our church reminded me of what I had said and that she always does the same now too. I didn't think that such a small thing would affect her, but it did. My habit rubbed off on her. 

Every day we come in contact with so many people and only eternity will show how we have affected their lives by even the briefest contact we might have with them. Knowing this should make us want to represent our King in the best way we know how to all the time. Little random acts of kindness are intentional ways we can rub off on someone and show them that we are a Christian. And we should be looking for ways to bless others, but we can't fall into the trap of believing that people only watch us when we are being intentionally Christlike. The world is watching us all the time to see if our faith is real. And they will know it is real if we live a life of integrity and consistency. 

Whether we are aware of it or not doesn't change the fact that even the tiniest amount of contact we may have with someone may affect them in a huge way. This is called "the butterfly effect". The butterfly effect is a scientific theory which states that a single event, no matter how small, can change the course of the universe forever. For example a butterfly flapping its wings on one side of the world could cause a tornado on the other.

 I'm pretty sure that's impossible, but you get the point. You never know how your actions or words are going to stay with someone even after you are gone. So we must be careful to speak the truth and lead by example. We all rub off on those around us. And our actions or words will either draw them to Christ or repel them. Some day when we are in Heaven we'll truly know how our lives affected those around us, but for now we must let our light shine and be a positive change in those around us. 

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16

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