Fragrance of grace
There is discouraging news out for some of us this week. According to a published report in the science journal Cell, different ones of us are magnets for mosquitos. The most devastating news is that there’s nothing we can do about this magnetism of ours. If you’ve been to a picnic and were one who was eaten alive by mosquitos, only to see others largely avoid the wrath of these lean, mean biting machines, there’s a reason for your suffering.
Mosquitos are drawn to individuals who have a high concentration of certain acids or “greasy molecules” in their skin’s natural moisturizing layer. In other words, each of us has an odor profile to our skin that was assigned to us without any consent on our part. For those of us deemed mosquito magnets, we can’t erase these acids from our skin without doing damage. That would be like trying to rub off a tattoo or lighten dark skin with bleaching cream. To put it simply, some of us are stuck with a scent that mosquitos love.
This depressing journal article has me thinking today of all the people I know who are stuck with a different kind of scent. I’ll call it the fragrance of grace. These are ones who have such an inescapable goodness to their personality that they couldn’t rub it off if they tried. The Lord has planted in them what Martin Luther King Jr. called a “dangerous unselfishness.” And they are constantly cultivating the grace of that unselfishness every single day. These are humble, simple, and unobtrusive people who care very little about prestige or power.
I once knew a man, who before teaching high school mathematics every day, would travel to the apartment of a quadriplegic woman who lived alone. There he transferred her from her bed to her high-tech wheelchair from which she could navigate pretty much everything in her day. She could even unlock the front door when he’d arrive outside, simply by sipping and puffing with a certain rhythm through a mechanical straw. At the end of the day, the man would transfer her back into her bed. All of this he did unselfishly as neighbor and friend. It was, if you will, the fragrance of his faith. It lent a magnetism to his life which others of us could scarcely get enough of.
I want that kind of generous fragrance to my life, a scent of kindness and humility that I’m stuck with because of what the Christ Jesus means to me. As for that greasy molecule stuff in my skin that I wish I wasn’t stuck with – I don’t know what to do about that. I guess I have all winter to think about next year’s skeeters.