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Pleasing aroma

If you do much reading in Leviticus you are familiar with the term pleasing aroma. It seems our sacrifices are accepted as a pleasing aroma by God. And to some extent, I can agree.  The smell of a wood fire burning outdoors, the smell of cooking meat on a grill.  These are pleasing aromas to me as well. But I have to draw a line at the full burnt offering, I simply do not find the smell of something burning as pleasing.

Psalm 141:2
May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.

I can accept that God finds pleasing things that are difficult for me to find pleasing.  I can accept that God can find joy and value in things that seem small to me. I can accept that my prayer and the lifting of my hands can be like a burnt offering.

I don’t often think of my prayers in as formal a way as I think of the Levitical sacrifices. My prayer life is raw, uncensored and real. I open my heart to expose hurt, anger and frustration as easily as I expose joy, peace and love. So as I share this verse with you today I am amazed that this is where God led me to share this week.

You see, I make it a priority to encourage families to let their relationship with God move and the ways they relate to him evolve as they grow and life’s circumstances change. But I haven’t made a change to my prayer life in about two years because I thought what I was doing was working during this busy season of school. Yet over the last few weeks I have felt God pull me in a new direction, and I am embarrassed to say I have been fighting him! I’ll tell you more about this new direction later in the week, but today I really want to focus on why I have been fighting God because I think this is such a common thing for humans.

School for me has been much harder than any other changes I have made, including the changes I had to make to care for new babies. I am always concerned that my family receive the best of my time while also ensuring I learn the material I need to know to be a midwife. God doesn’t take a back seat, but the ways I spend time with him changed to accommodate the balancing of demands from school and family. I haven’t thought to reevaluate how I currently spend time with God because it works for me.

Works for me? I don’t mean that in a selfish way but that I have found a way to maintain what God and I have. And honestly I become concerned sometimes that I might lose what I have left. You see, I really like the way I spent time with God before I started school.  I had an hour or two each day to read the Bible and write in a journal. When I lost the time to spend hours with God I was concerned I would “lose” what made me a Christian.

I am happy to report that what I gained was new ways to spend time with God, but I still miss what I used to have. Now that I feel God pulling me to try something else new I am concerned again that I will “lose” what I have with God today. Isn’t it always scary to try something new, to be stretched and challenged?

It just makes me wonder, where is God challenging you?

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Jennifer Vanderlaan CNM MPH is the author of the BirthingNaturally.net website. She has been working with expectant families since 2000, training doulas and childbirth educators, and midwives. She has worked with midwives in Central America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Her interest in public health grew in 2010, and she is now a PhD student in a nursing program learning to become a producer of knowledge.

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