The Bare Soul - February 7, 2010
Holy Fragrances

Song of Solomon 4:16 - Awake, O north wind, and come, wind of the south; make my garden breathe out fragrance, let its spices be wafted abroad. May my beloved come into his garden and eat its choice fruits!

Smells can be intoxicating as well as repulsive. I remember going into bars and saloons back in my practicing alcoholic days. Entering the doors of such establishments on any given evening would flood the nose with both familiar and pleasant aromas. Cigarette smoke, beer, and liquor would produce a cacophony of smells that gave this addict a sense of peace that he was "home". However, to venture into the same bar the next morning before the proprietors had a chance to clean up would often blast the senses (including one's "smeller") with the foul stench of stale cigarettes, beer, and liquor. Depending on the saloon and the clientele, one might also smell the cocktail of various human excrements mixed in with the remnants of the previous night's debauchery. What was perceived the night before as a glorious fragrance became a horrendous odor less than a day later. Most recovering alcoholics and addicts that have any length of sobriety from alcohol, cigarettes, and/or drugs would testify that the smell is no longer intoxicating and desirable. It conjures up memories of a devastated former life full of sickness and misery. Those who abstain have re-trained their senses to appreciate the absence of these foul things in their lives. Even more so for those who have trusted in Jesus Christ. For as they once were the walking dead going from "death to death" now they are His righteousness being transformed from this life to the one to come (II Corinthians 2:14-16). God has set them on a course to train their senses (Hebrews 5:14), to appreciate the fragrance of Christ that we all will emit if we are given to His pleasure through obedience.

In our opening scripture, Solomon's bride speaks about a garden filled with an abundance of fragrances that she desires the King to find delight in upon his visit. She invokes the winds to blow upon her garden to emit its delectable odors. Just as God sends his rain on both the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 5:45), so He also sends winds upon everyone's respective "garden", both sinners and saints alike. Whether we wish to acknowledge it or not, everyone is growing a spiritual crop that will either produce a garden of sumptuous fruit or a barren patch or thorns. Life's rain and winds will cause our gardens to either grow for God or to be forever cursed. Ultimately, the winds will come for everyone, whether sinner or saint. Sometimes, they will be gentle breezes but at other times they will be winds of adversity. The north and south winds mentioned by Solomon's bride are indicative of change, and yet she desires and invokes them by her plea. In ancient Israel, as well as today, the north wind was typically a rain or a snow event (in the higher elevations), dominated by a low pressure system. South winds generally brought heat and dry winds through a pronounced high pressure atmosphere. These were merely cyclic weather patterns to be expected.

Before knowing Christ, when steeped in my sin and addiction, the winds would often blow creating havoc in my life as well as those around me. The devastation of the tornadic winds of sin created despair and hopelessness in both my life and those of my family. However, the same winds would blow in other's lives that were walking with Christ in a surrendered manner yet without the same effect.  Tempestuous winds will blow in everyone's lives regardless of their relationship to God as previously stated. However, this relationship or the lack therof depends on what will be wafted about in the "blowing" process. High and low pressure systems bring times of abundance and times of drought, yet Solomon's bride was desirous of their respective movements throughout her garden. She understood that times of abundant moisture would be a watershed or storehouse for times of drought. Similarly, the winds from the south, or the "high pressure" times would create a resilience and fortitude to her garden that constant moisture could not provide. As a metaphor for our lives, we need the winds of change. We rejoice in times of refreshing from the Lord (Acts 3:19) but we must equally embrace the times of drought when we don't sense His presence. We know if we but trust Him that our proverbial "garden" will once again spring to life and waft about His lovely fragrance as He dwells within us. For truly, we may be His gardeners but He will always be the true Husbandman. As we submit to Him through all circumstances, both good and bad, then we will understand what Paul spoke of when he said that we are "fragrance of Christ to God" (II Corinthians 2:15) -- for some an odor for death and for others a fragrance leading to life.

If we know Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, then we have the opportunity to produce a garden within our souls that is ripe with fruits for His glory (Galatians 5:22-23). However, if we choose to live for ourselves, believing that our lives are our own, then we will create nothing but a barren wasteland that is only suitable for fire. The winds will come upon all of our lives, creating "lows" and "highs" with their times of plenty and want. God's blessing will only abide on HIS garden as we have given it back to Him in an attitude of submission. If we seek to take and selfishly tend what God has entrusted to all, then a curse will remain upon the garden of our heart and it will remain barren for eternity. Has your "smeller" been transformed by the work of His Spirit? Is there an aroma of life or death wafting from your soul this day? Can we say along with the bride, "Awake", to the winds of adversity to create within us a deeper, richer, holier life with the Husbandman of our Hearts? He desires that we would all imitate Solomon's lovesick bride and yearn for Him to come into our hearts and find much fruit for His glory. May it happen for Him and for His Name's sake. Come, Lord Jesus, come!

Father, may we be perfected by the winds of adversity that would waft about your holy fragrances. Give us lovesick desire for Your Son to come into the garden of our heart and find the delicacies of holiness that He so desires. Help us to love only Him, for He is the one who gives true life through times of plenty and times of want. Sanctify us in Your Name. In Jesus Name, Amen!

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

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