You Smell Like Grandpa!

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When my daughter was much younger the aroma of my cologne often caused her to exclaim, “You smell like grandpa!” I was initially offended that she wasn’t able to differentiate between my high-end department store cologne and my dad’s low-end big box store aftershave. And then I realized the value of the fragrance didn’t really matter to her. Instead, her focus was on the meaningful recollections stirred by those olfactory memories of a grandpa who loved her unconditionally.

At the age of 75 my dad contracted and nearly died from West Nile Virus. His road back to health was a rigorous one as he spent more than 100 days recovering in the hospital. Occupational and physical therapies were both necessary to combat the muscle weakness from the virus that invaded his brain causing swelling and even permanent damage.

The treatments allowed my dad to quickly recover mentally but the physical recovery eventually came to a stopping point. Consequently, he was no longer able to walk and even now is confined to a wheelchair. But instead of living the rest of his life being bitter, angry and resentful, my dad decided to live as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God (Eph. 5:2).

Paul wrote that through us the aroma of the knowledge of Christ is spread in every place. So my dad assumed that also included hospital rooms, rehab facilities and even from wheel chairs. Consequently, his goal was and is to be the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing (2 Cor. 2:14-15).

My dad turns 89 this week. Even at that advanced age and despite trying to manage constant pain, he continues to offer his body as a sacrificial sweet-smelling aroma that is well pleasing to God (Phil. 4:18). He models for me what it means to “count it all joy when you fall into various trials” (James 1:2). So if I prove to be half the man my dad is, then my life will have been a success. And for me to smell like grandpa now is no longer an affront, it’s an aspiration.

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