on spinach and sin

It’s 4 days till Christmas, and I’m sitting in my dorm room. (I’m okay with that; I’m going home tomorrow morning.) I’m sitting in my dorm room eating a can of spinach and a can of tuna. You should know something: I LOVE tuna. I mean that. I would eat it every day if I could. I can’t, because my mom and roommate both don’t like it, and I’m not sure what that mercury would do to me. But, my roommate is home for break, and I am not yet home for break, so there is no one around to care about my tuna!

This tuna is seriously making my heart joyful, y’all.

The can of spinach on the other hand…….not so much. I dig spinach. I love it on pizza, and in omelettes, and steamed and buttery, or with some tangy raspberry dressing with turkey and cheese in a salad. Spinach is my pal. But if you’ve ever eaten in any kind of cafeteria in your life, you’ll understand the difference between the happy spinach I just described, and the kind you get from a can. Unfortunately, that is what I am currently holding my nose and eating – because I bruise easily so I figured I’d get some Iron in me, and because I read that eating too much Ramen is bad for women’s hearts. So I’m trying to now limit myself to ONE brick of Ramen a day from the case I have sitting on top of my dresser. (it’s less than $3 for 12 meals though. That temptation is never going to go away.) I’m not sure if I’ll make it through the whole can honestly, but I’ll at least get half, so that my body is happier with me.

Most of us remember how canned spinach tastes from our cafeteria-eating days. But there’s another component I’m not sure you’ll remember right away.

The smell.

Obviously, my wonderful tuna has a distinct smell. But when I opened up that can of Popeye’s brand spinach (it had a picture of him on the can. I had to), the smell hit me and I instantly questioned my decision to eat a whole can of the stuff.

As I sat down with my tasty tuna and sad spinach, I went “hey God. What do you want to tell me today?”

He said, “Your sin smells like spinach.” …okay, He said it stinks, but I’m just really not loving this spinach right now.

I tried to press Him for more, but just felt His nudge to dig in for more on my own. I think at some point every teacher (at least every math teacher) I’ve had has told me “you’ll learn it better if you do it on your own than if I give you the answer,” and God is ever playing teacher with my wandering self…

I’m no stranger to the idea of smells + God. I love the idea that our prayers and our worship are like sweet incense to Him. I pray that my songs smell sweet to Him almost every time I’m in a corporate worship setting. There’s just something about that idea that my heart loves – probably because I love good smelling things. Scentsy pots and fabreez and those little cone air fresheners are my pals. My paintbrushes are nestled in some scented wax balls in a mason jar on my desk. And if I enjoy things that smell good this much, of course God does. He’s the one that gave us a sense of smell and made all these wonderful smelling things (and not so wonderful smelling things – lookin’ at you, spinach).

But as much as I love to think about things smelling good to Him, I’ve never really stopped and said, “If my prayers and good things smell sweet, what does my sin smell like?” until now.

Uh…GROSS. They smell super bad. (Super bad. Click at your own risk. Maybe you didn’t ever think about that verse in that light before…you probably wish you still hadn’t.)

That’s gross. That’s so gross that I want to go take that part out and just say it smells like a dung beetle rollin’ his way across Africa (watch that video; it has fun sound effects).

But at the same time, I’m really glad God showed me that. Because I LOVE how uncomfortable and unhappy that metaphor makes me. I don’t want to smell like this can of spinach, much less that, to God.

I love smelling good. I have like 5000 scented lotions and body sprays spread between my dorm room and my bathroom at home. I shower almost every day (yes, almost. I’m in college. It’s normal). I brush my teeth. I wash my clothes. I use all kinds of air fresheners, like I said earlier.

But until now, I never realized that I don’t put nearly as much care into how my actions and my life smells to God. All over the old testament, there are verses referencing how burnt offerings smell pleasing to God. But what does my offering smell like? I know I’ve prayed that I want my life to be an offering or a living sacrifice more times than I can count. But I want my offering to actually smell pleasing to God, not just be something that I give Him because I should.

I don’t want you to think that I’m somehow missing the fact that Christ’s sacrifice is what washes me clean and makes me smell good at all. But if all my actions and choices and words can be a sweet smelling incense and sacrifice, not just my prayers, then I want my life to be as wonderful smelling to God as possible. I want to smell like something He delights in and rejoices over. I want the scent of my life to glorify Him, and not just my physical scent based on showers and perfumes.

And y’all…I finished my can of spinach.


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