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Broken Things  

On morning walks after the holidays, I like to smell the different Christmas trees piled out by the curb: Balsam fir, Blue spruce, and Scotch pine. (I'm so crazy about the smell; Diana makes our fake Christmas tree smell like the real deal!).

Walking by those curbside trees, I often break off a small sprig and breathe in the fragrance--my feeble attempt at hanging on to Christmas just a bit longer. Interestingly, the pine smells the strongest where the twig is broken off. That arresting aroma is not found in the luxurious green needles. But you cannot escape it at the point of the wound.

I’m learning that the same is often true spiritually. Let me explain.

I visited an elderly Christian friend whose wife now lives in a memory care unit. He misses her terribly—to the point you sense something (someone) has been torn from him. Yet, to be with him is to breathe a fragrance of kindness and warmth that can only be described as Christ-like.

Another friend is in the middle of a months-long knee replacement nightmare. Talk about broken! He is entirely immobile—but spiritually unwavering—the fragrance of Christ.

This week, I met a Christian woman who remembers Adolph Hitler's motorcade driving down her street. Not long after, her family faced the horror of the Russian occupation. She heard the screams of women raped at night, the shots of guns executing neighbors, and the incessant growl of her stomach as starvation loomed. Incredibly, she, too, had this fragrance of Christ about her.

Like the Christmas trees I sample, that fragrance is not released in seasons of comfort—the easy times. Look for it in seasons of brokenness.

My point? Someone reading this right now is at a place of great hurt. I would not minimize your pain or pretend I know all you're going through. I can only tell you what I've observed in those who refuse to turn bitter but instead cling to the Savior. When the focus is Jesus, the fragrance is Christ.


For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.

—2 Corinthians 2:15







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Jon GaugerJon Gauger

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