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Notre Dame Smells

Notre Dame smells. 

No seriously…it smells AMAZING! This is not a lie; it is a fact (and I am NOT a Notre Dame fan).

This past summer I attended a conference for teachers on the campus of Notre Dame. The campus had flowers blooming, big beautiful trees, and a meticulous landscape. While all of this was wonderful to look at, it was nothing compared to how the buildings smelled. 

Notre Dame Campus

The first day I walked into one of the buildings, this wonderful smell overtook my senses. I thought perhaps they had just scrubbed the building down with a fragrant “cleaner”. To my shock, the next day that same smell was STILL there. My curiosity overcame me so I asked one of the employees what that smell was. They simply replied, “It is the ‘Notre Dame smell’. Our bookstore sells that smell in the form of a candle.” First of all, they had me at the word BOOKSTORE. I was then on a mission to BUY this candle! 

This smell was fresh, clean, and inviting. I decided I needed this smell in my house!

My friends and I made the trek to find the bookstore across campus. When we entered the bookstore, I had “tunnel vision” looking ONLY for the candles. Then I saw them - light shone around them as they called me to them. Okay, that didn’t actually happen, BUT I was excited to see this shelf of candles. I did my fastest speed-walk to that shelf.

The Notre Dame candles come in three sizes. The smallest size was a tin. It is tiny, so I picked that one up thinking it would be the easiest to pack and the cheapest one to tote back to Florida. I expected to see a price between $10-$12; ummmmm - I was wrong. This itty bitty candle, in a tin, cost $25.00. If I was going to buy this AMAZING smelling candle, it was going to come at a cost. 

As much as I REALLY wanted one of those candles, I could not stomach the price. 

I am sure most candles undergo the same process of ‘becoming a candle’; however, the candlemaker of these candles make these candles stand out because of the scent they offer. When fire or heat is applied to candles, they smell AMAZING.

When fire is applied to my life, how will I change and how will I smell?

Likewise, while I don’t know the exact process of how a candle becomes a candle, I do know heat/fire has to be applied to materials which are melted and molded to become a new candle. At some point during this process, scent is placed into this new candle.

While growing up in Kentucky, my church would have these HUGE fires where we would cook corn in the hot ashes. We would do this on colder nights. The fires were massive, and I had a choice: I could watch the enormous fire from a distance, or I could move closer to allow the fire to warm me and change my temperature from rigid to warm. 

For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. 

Deuteronomy 4:24

A fire is a fire whether I choose to move close to it or not. I can see it from a distance, even believe it is real, but I am NOT changed by it unless I decide to move close to it.

Life can really get in the way of moving towards God. Trauma trips us up, troubles steal our joy, and time, with its own disappointments, takes our energy and focus away.

I am all too familiar with these:

Trauma - I have earned that T-shirt. 

Troubles - been there - done that - still on that path in some areas. No seriously - life is hard!

Time - time has proven that some things haven’t turned out the way I thought they would. 

BUT - I will always have a choice to move closer to THE FIRE even when life disappoints me. 

Here’s the truth about moving closer to God, He wants to get rid of and burn away our impurities. This process can be hard and humbling, again I have this t-shirt as well! 

Here’s the truth about moving closer to God, He wants to get rid of and burn away our impurities.

I’d like to look at a woman in the Bible who certainly had her own trauma and troubles and what she did to move closer to Jesus.

When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”

Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”

“Tell me, teacher,” he said.

“Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Luke 7:36-50

  1. She Showed Up

This woman showed up uninvited and unannounced and this changed her life.

A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume.

The woman was brave to show up in front of a bunch of strangers whom we can clearly see judging her for her decisions as well as her past. She only cared what Jesus thought of her!

I am not sure what this showing up should look like for you. Maybe it is physical things like going to church, getting involved in a small group, or saying “Yes” to a new friendship and meeting them for lunch/dinner.  Maybe it’s putting the time into your spiritual life: praying, reading the Bible, etc.

I think it is very easy when dealing with our own ‘stuff’ to shut down and lock ourselves away from the world, but look at how kind Jesus deals with this woman all because HE is kind; He is good even when we are not. Therefore, we can show up and give all of what we have. 

If we want this all consuming fire to change us, we need to do our part and move toward it.

  1. She Surrendered

Did you notice she is standing behind Jesus wiping his feet? I wonder if her shame kept her from looking at Jesus?

As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears.

This is what surrender looks like. It is bringing whatever you have to his feet!

This woman was living a life out of control and everyone around her knew this; however, she surrenders her pride, her belongings, her hurts, and leaves it at the feet of Jesus. He treats her with care and dignity; He will do the same for us when we surrender to Him!

She also surrendered a jar of expensive perfume which is something tangible. This surrender involves our whole lives - everything we are and everything we have. Surrendering can be hard work because it is NOT a passive act. This is an act of our will and heart.

Surrender, in my opinion, humbles us because we recognize we are NOT in control. God can transform our lives; we have let go to allow Him to have control over us to change us.

  1. She was Seen and Saved

I find it fascinating the scripture points out - Jesus turns toward this woman as she is at his feet.

Then he turned toward the woman and said…“Your sins are forgiven…Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

He saw her.

He forgave her.

He told her to go in peace.

He did not ignore her cries nor her struggle. He sees what our hearts are crying out about.

She was seen and saved. She moved toward the fire and was changed by it. 

We have the same opportunity as this woman.

Let’s move toward the fire; let’s become changed by it, too.


Lana Willis

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