My two-year-old darling goes to daycare once a week. She loves it – spends most of the time making dirt pies outside, Mr Biddulph will be pleased to hear, and I’m always thrilled to see how much dirt her clothes have managed to carry home. That statement’s not tongue-in-cheek, by the way. I really am stoked to see her grimy clothes, the clumps of dirt secreted in the toes of her shoes, and know that she’s been engaged in some good, old-fashioned play.
Each time I pick her up, swinging her into my arms and covering her face with kisses, I notice a strange smell. When I put my nose to it, inhaling at her neck and in her ash-blonde hair, I realise what it is: someone else’s perfume – the lingering fragrance of another woman’s loving cuddles.
The evidence of a Jesus-centred (or should that be Jesus-scented?) life is like this, like a sweet aroma that people are drawn to, intrigued by, entranced by, and which even rubs off on them. They take that aroma home, tucked inadvertently into the seams of their conscience. And perhaps they won’t have words for it, perhaps they will only know it as something “good”.
“… your name is like perfume poured out,” Song of Songs 1:3 says.
Speaking the name of Jesus releases the fragrance of heaven. It lingers around us like a cloud, rubbing off on others.
But this verse – this vignette from a book that has lately compelled me to study deeper – holds another revelation. The perfume is not spritzed or dabbed sparingly on wrists and neck. It is “poured out”.
We don’t tend to pour perfume. Imagine drenching your décolletage with a whole bottle of Dior or using Chanel No. 5 like it was bath water. Frivolous much?
Yet, that is the expression used; “poured out”. Like water from a tap. Like milk from a jug. Like wine at a wedding. Like rain from the sky. Like a dam overflowing.
I’m struck by the generosity of it – something as precious as Jesus’ name poured out, lavished. Not rationed.
The power of Jesus’ name is a perfume poured out from a vessel with depth unmeasured.
Like a beautiful scent, he beckons…
“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
“I am the way and the truth and the life.”
As I pull bunny-print pyjamas onto my little girl’s legs, guiding hands through armholes and buttoning up to the flannelette collar, I wonder if my perfume is as noticeable as the aroma she carried home.
I tuck her into bed, sing, pray, switch off the light.
As Jesus’ Beloved, are there ways I can pour out his name like perfume, rather than spritz it in awkward, tight-fisted ways?
“Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognised by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life. But those on the way to destruction treat us more like the stench from a rotting corpse.
This is a terrific responsibility. Is anyone competent to take it on? No—but at least we don’t take God’s Word, water it down, and then take it to the streets to sell it cheap. We stand in Christ’s presence when we speak; God looks us in the face. We get what we say straight from God and say it as honestly as we can.”
2 Corinthians 2:15-17, The Message.