The other day I was walking across the campus at the Children’s Home on an absolutely gorgeous day. The cloudless sky was a bright, deep blue. It was warm with a gentle breeze, causing the pine trees to dance lightly with the sky. The air was sweet with the scent of pine needles. I thought, “this must be what heaven is like.” I was reminded of a joke told by one of my clergy friends. He would say, “If you don’t like the smell of incense, you won’t like heaven!” As I walked along I thought, I bet the incense in heaven is not clouds of smoke billowing out of a censer like at church. Instead, I imagine it is like the pine straw, occasionally wafting up its sweet aroma as a surprise grace note to passersby.
Today, during my devotional, I read, “From the rising of the sun to its setting my Name shall be great among the nations, and in every place incense shall be offered to my Name, and a pure offering; for my Name shall be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts.” Malachi 1:11 I doubt heaven is covered with pine straw and we don’t sacrifice animals on the altar anymore so what is this incense that we should be offering up to the Lord of hosts?
Several weeks ago, for Epiphany Sunday, we planned on giving food baskets to 3 local families in thanksgiving for the gifts of the 3 kings. I was in PriceSmart buying the food when I was suddenly filled with the Holy Spirit. I knew He was saying, “Yes, this is how I want the children to celebrate Epiphany.” After blessing the food during the church service, we all set off down the hill to deliver the first basket to the family at the gate. The basket started out very heavy but within a few steps, it was almost empty because many children wanted to help carry the food. We were met at the house by the gate by Kimberly, a young pregnant woman. Her face was wreathed in smiles as she accepted the basket, full of nutritious food, milk, and some cookies, for the family. We went to the second house just up the dirt road from the Children’s Home. The bigger boys took the food into the kitchen. There was no food in the house. Dona Reyna, the mom, joined us in prayer and then prayed herself, thanking God for this miracle. Although we had planned this, to her it was like manna from heaven. One minute her family has no food, suddenly they have a basketful! I think at that moment, a sweet aroma wafted up to heaven. Our offering of incense to the Lord in the form of food for His children.
In January a medical brigade came and we held a clinic in a rural church. A mother brought her severely disabled 5-year-old son. His muscles are so week and flaccid, he can’t even hold his head up. The mom carries him everywhere. The team left money to buy a stroller for him. Edson and I delivered the stroller to their home, a long walk down a treacherous dirt road. The mom was thrilled with the stroller and immediately rolled him up and down the length of the porch. Then she smiled and thanked God for the stroller. The incense of her gratitude rises to heaven and God smiles.
Most of our children at the Children’s Home have sponsors, or “madrinas and padrinos” (Godparents.) Many of them have established relationships with the children and communicate with them regularly. It is a wonderful thing to see a child’s eyes light up when they hear from their madrina or padrino. It is also true that some of our children either don’t have a sponsor or don’t have any contact with their sponsor. They are all very gracious and are happy when another child receives a gift, card, or visit from their Godparents. Not long ago I asked one girl what she would like from her madrina who was coming soon. After the long wish list from her friend, Genesis (the older one,) who does not have an active madrina, looked at me and said forlornly, “I would like some skates.” Her little face pierced my heart and I determined that she would get skates. I reached out to the other girl’s madrina and asked her if she would add some skates to the list. The look of pure joy on Genesis’ face when we presented her the skates was priceless! Sweet, sweet aroma! Later on that afternoon, we saw many other children helping her learn to skate and learning to skate themselves as she happily shared her new skates (and the only skates at the Children’s Home!) with anyone who wanted to try. The generosity that comes so naturally to the children must lift up billows of incense! (Oh, and now Genesis has her own madrina! Love sends more incense heavenward…)
To listen to Perfume at Your Feet, follow this link.https://youtu.be/JXrGBjKyMvY