by Noel Bouché
I’m an essential oil user. We put them to work in our household in numerous ways, but I enjoy even the simple act of opening a small bottle of one of favorite oils, like, oh, peppermint. Just lifting the cap permeates the room with the invigorating aroma of mentha piperita and provides an immediate pick-me-up to everyone in the vicinity.
The other day, though, I opened another type of lid and had the opposite experience: a container of sour milk filled the kitchen with a most unpleasant scent.
In both cases, what was inside flowed out and had an impact on the entire environment. And so it is with us.
We humans spend an incredible amount of time, money, and energy clothing, crafting, and curating our external container (Matthew 23:25). But when our cap is lifted, it is what is inside that permeates the environment around us. If we’re filled with peace, others will experience rest and security around us. If we’re filled with love, others will experience care and affection.
But if inside we’re stuck in envy, greed, anxieties, disappointments, resentment, secrets… that is what will flow into the spaces of our homes and relationships.
We are humans, not things, but in our embodied existence we are in fact containers and dispensers of what is inside us—as the Bible puts it, we are “jars of clay” (2 Corinthians 4:7). And when we are resting in the redemptive work of the One who purifies us, hope, beauty, and life-giving strength will flow out of us like “rivers of living water” (John 7:38) to everyone around, and our homes, our workplaces, our neighborhoods will be changed.
I have a friend who models this every day for me. He and and his wife are raising three young adults, and they’ve always been “that house”—you know, the one where all the kids want to go hang out, where people are always coming and going, where laughter seems to be present even when it’s quiet. He’s not perfect, the family’s not perfect, and challenges and sorrows are as real as anywhere else. But he has set his heart on hoping in Jesus to carry him, heal him, free him, and direct him. And people are drawn from near (like his kids) and far (down the street or across the country) to that pleasing aroma of his presence. It is the “sweet aroma” of someone who really knows Jesus (2 Corinthians 2:14-15).
It’s said that “we can’t give away what we don’t have”; the corollary might be that “we will give away what we do have.” And when we let go of our grasping for self-protection and hope in the One who fills our heart with life, we won’t have to work to make a positive impact on those around us.
We can just lift our cap.
“…waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”
— Titus 2:13-14