Girl Meets God
by Melissa Mathews
William Shakespeare "God's strategy in a nutshell: He builds into you and me the beauty of his own character and then puts us on display."
Several years ago, the little Mathews brothers and I went to "Holiday Craft Night" at Natomas Park Elementary school. It was crowded, unfamiliar, but fun. The favorite table, of course, was decorating Christmas cookies. Jack had to wash his hands two times before he finished one cookie. The table that I steered my boys away from was the potato-stamping-too-messy-paint table where kids made pictures that would never dry, ever.
There was one craft table we hadn't stopped at: the sandpaper gingerbread man Christmas ornament table. I heard someone in the masses say, "Oh, those are sure cute."
"They smell so good," someone else said. And since I'm always up for free Christmas ornaments, we all migrated to the gingerbread man table. Grant started trying to draw a gingerbread man on the 6-inch square of sandpaper. He ended up with a skewed, one-inch man. Ah, but there was a tracing pattern we hadn't seen. So with a new sheet of sandpaper, Grant used the template and traced a perfect shape. Then I had to trace and cut one out myself. It's especially fun to do crafts when the mess is not in your house.
I had glued on my eyes and cut out a ribbon for a hanger when I noticed this bark looking stuff on the table. Hmm, what in the world is this for? "Maybe it's for a bowtie," one mom suggested. I broke one piece in half and tried to fashion a bowtie on my gingerbread man's neck.
Just then, my 10-year-old slipped in beside me. "Next, rub the cinnamon stick on the sandpaper," he read from the instruction sheet that had been sitting in the middle of the table that we had yet to notice. Oh, wow. He's reading the instructions. What a novel idea. So that's what you do with the bark stuff. Someone who follows the directions rubs the cinnamon stick on the sandpaper gingerbread man so he emits a holiday fragrance.
I wondered then just how many times my unwillingness to follow directions had left me without God's intended desire…fragrance. 2 Corinthians 2:14-15 puts it this way: "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." How many times had my lack of obedience-- an unwillingness to forgive, or reach out, or compliment someone-- kept me from being a sweet scent to those around me.
On my own I cannot do it. If I want to be a pleasant fragrance to those around me, I need to follow someone's instructions. I need someone to lead me, and work through me--someone like Jesus, who came to earth to show me how it's done. I need someone like Jesus, who was born into a stinky barn so I could learn how to smell sweet.
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Scott and I have been married 22 years and currently live in Northern California where we are beginning year five as church planters. I also teach 12th grade English and love it.
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