I took a sick day last week. It was a beautiful day outside, blue sky and sunny, with birds chortling, even though it was the first day of winter. I sat in bed with a stuffy nose and my cup of tea, and as I looked out the window I realised how full and whirring my mind had been over the last few days. What I really needed was to re-centre, to lay out several aspects of my life before God and work out what He wanted.
As I reflected on something in my life that I’d promised, only days earlier, to lay down before him, I found myself praying ‘Lord, you and I have been at cross-purposes on this one…’
Almost immediately, the thought hit me: If you and God are working at cross-purposes, then you’re working against yourself.
How is it that I consistently forget that God wants only good things for me; that His ways are perfect and that His burden is designed to be light, not heavy?
Only minutes before this thought, as I looked out into the bare branches of the tree outside my window, the song had come to mind, ‘be still my soul, the Lord is on your side.’
What a deep comfort this should be to me. How quickly I should hasten to line my will up with his knowing that he asks for no sacrifice or step of obedience that will not ultimately lead to my good.
I’m reading Leviticus. It’s tough going. There are rules and regulations listed in extreme detail, and a lot of directives involving the blood, fat, meat and regularity of animal sacrifices.
My housemate told me that she loves reading the Old Testament because of what it teaches her about God’s character, so I’ve been really focusing on what I can learn about who God is.
He seems to like blood.
The picture of God as presented in Leviticus appears demanding and somewhat brutal. How can the God I know and love have been so keen on the constant offerings of blood and flesh, to the point where he considers it a ‘pleasing aroma?’ It seems sadistic.
So I’ve been praying and meditating, and last week God gave me something powerful: It shows his abhorrence to sin.
So often I just ignore sin in my life. But God really hates it. He cannot abide it. There is absolutely nothing good or worthwhile in sin.
God doesn’t like death either. He created a world without it. But death has in it one redeeming feature that sin doesn’t have. Justice.
In the disgusting brutality of the shedding of blood, there was something good: The pleasing aroma of justice, which covered the stench of sin.
God was willing to endure the death of animals, and even of His own son, so that the sin of humanity could be washed away. It was not the smell of death that pleased God, but the smell of atonement.