* This article was first published in Women on the Journey devotional for women by Church Strengthening Ministries almost two decades ago! A friend messaged me that she recently got a copy and was delighted to read my writing. May this help some souls out there for whom the message may come timely. Shalom! 🙂
“But thank God! He has made us His captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now He uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?” – 2 Corinthians 2:14-16, New Living Translation
My February 6th journal entry reads, “I feel so ugly inside… I mourn for my ugliness! I cry out to You, Lord, in the ugliness and emptiness of my soul, in the hope that You will establish me and solidify what is not whole.”
Earlier this year, I learned a lesson on humiliation. I received three devastating comments from persons whom I dared bare my heart, all in less than 24 hours! I hurt a very dear friend and lost some valuable relationships. I had to admit before my accountability group that I was feigning strength and happiness all the while. I had to let others carry me in my times of despair. I had to silence all my defenses, be fully sorry, and accept that I was wrong.
Earlier this year, I read almost ten autobiographies and writings of the most esteemed vanguards of the Christian faith. I took in all I could learn from their spirituality and was challenged by their transparency. They provided a clear contrast to me. They were not ashamed to admit and unveil their evil, while I, on the other hand, hide behind my many defenses. More so, they were gripped by the reality of their sinfulness, whereas I do not even realize that I sin.
Earlier this year, I had to study 2 Corinthians 2:14 for my Greek class: “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him.”
I learned that “triumphal procession” does not refer to God leading us to victory, but to God parading us as conquered slaves before the mocking public. I tried to understand why Paul glories in captivity and exuberantly shouts, “Thanks be to God,” in the midst of exceeding humiliation. I begged God to explain the passage to me, feeling that it holds the key to shed light on my circumstances.
Earlier this year, I scanned my memory to see when I ever had a time that I agreed, without defenses, that I was fully wrong on a matter. When sorry over my wrongs was more important than my desire for forgiveness. When I exulted in the grace of God that opened my eyes and made me realize my evil. When I cried for my sinfulness more than I cried for my loneliness and pain. When I thanked God for the privilege of having my weaknesses exposed. Earlier this year, I understood that this realization was enough victory, enough mercy, enough joy.
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him.” – 2 Corinthians 2:24, NIV