A sense memory is a sound, touch, smell, color—something that uses one of your five senses—to recall a memory. Since I am very sensitive to smells, my sense memories are usually of the olfactory type.
One of my most favorite scents of all time is a summer thunderstorm on the horizon. The electricity and water in the air, the smell of rain hanging heavy in the clouds and mist that has yet to fall, the deep, rich colors that no longer need UV filters (photography) or UV protection (sunglasses) to be seen and the pressure building that causes temporal rumblings in the sky….absolutely delicious. I even love the humidity brought on by a summer thunder storm. The dampness on my skin, the weight of the air… You think I’m mad, right? Completely bonkers? The thing is, the smell of coming rain, no matter the season, jogs memories of mine. I can almost feel the large, squishy droplets on my skin as the air begins to clear, and a chemical reaction in my brain screams “peace.” Whether it’s Winter Solstice, crisp, clean air, or the previously described Summer rain, there is nothing in the world that has ever been able to break through the peace and joy I feel when the weather changes like that. It is marvelous.
Lately, I’ve been trying to be more consciously aware of the emotional sense memories that have been stirring. As I am not used to them being quite so vibrant, it took me a while to recognize what these latest sensations were reminding me of.
This week, another one of many families will be making their way into the life of missionary work. As a church body, we are used to sending people out, across borders, oceans, continents…it’s what we do to honor the commission of the Almighty God. It’s a beautiful thing. The miraculous part about this is that in my life, this particular cause has finally come full circle. Wash, rinse, repeat: FULL CIRCLE.
Let’s start at the beginning. When I was 10, my best friend’s parents announced from the Sanctuary stage that their visa’s had been accepted and they were moving to Cairo….as in Egypt… as in Africa….as in the other side of the planet. Crazy sauce in my 10 year old opinion, but also very cool. Because there were pyramids and camels and history…right? I watched my mother help her mother pack. I sat on her bed and the two of us hiccuped and cried over being so far away that only the postal service/par avion could connect us. It was heartbreaking. But it was part of a larger plan.
As I think about the day she left (the first time), I realize that this amazing family is facing the same cliff, the same leap that my friend’s parents took. But now, instead of being the 10 year old friend of the kid whose parents are missionaries, I am the same age as the parents, praying over their children, asking Jesus to guide their feet, watching them stand where my friends’ family stood 24 years ago. It erupts in me a sense memory that I haven’t felt in years. Do you know what that is? When a Jesus Christ circle completes itself in your life, a realization comes to the surface. It’s the feeling of air being pulled from your lungs, sucked from your being, as you hurl your body, 100% into faith, believing that Jesus’ reach will cover and protect, will shelter and provide, will grow and change for his glory, willing hearts, faithful people. It’s the leap of faith that the Bible talks about. While some of us remain home, steadfast, as anchors holding onto lifelines, others are taken to the cliff, told to grab the end of the rope and leap, flying head first into oblivion.
The best part about this process is what I have come to realize. I heard people say many times, “who would take young children to a place like that? Who would do that to their family? Why would someone take a risk like that?” The answer is simple, overwhelming, and beautiful. Because Jesus asked. If we truly believe that Christ is the holiest, almighty, universe creating, soul protecting God he says he is, then answering God, going where he tells you to go, doing what he tells you to do….isn’t an optional thing. It’s not a fear based response. There’s no worry over safety, provision, or anything else. It’s a simple, yet supernatural response to a very singular question, loaded as it may be; to a Savior we trust.
We go because God asks. We go with love, in love, and because of love. We go because of Christ. We go because God asks.
As it turns out, coming full circle, feeling the hot sun bake my body into the coming Summer, filling my senses with memories of breaking heat, planting of gardens, and the picking of blackberries off thorny little vines, I remember one more very small, incredibly significant thing. They will be to someone else what a missionary was to me. And there is no greater purpose for their life than to work for the Glory of Yaweh, and to bring his light to life.
With hands held high and hearts anchored deep, we pray for open eyes, joy in the awe of spectacular creation, and the light of the eternal, living Christ to be their guide.
Shepherd, I bless you for what you give me.
If nothing you give me, I also do bless you.
I follow you laughing through roses and thorns, through brambles and thistles I joyously follow.
With you when there’s plenty, with you when I want.
Still always with you.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.