It happened in the grocery store.

I was busy considering which was the best bottled barbecue sauce (I settled on Sweet Baby Ray’s), when someone passed behind me leaving the very strong aroma of Ben-Gay ointment. Without a moment’s hesitation my brain conjured the image of my great-grandmother, “Mother Pete.” So hard and fast was the memory, that I caught myself turning to see if the person passing was, in fact, her.

Of course, it couldn’t have been, as she passed away years ago. But it was amazing how my mind was instantly flooded with all the fun and quirky things I remembered about her…amazing that it was brought on by a single whiff of a product that I don’t really even remember her using, but one whose scent obviously imprinted itself on a young girl’s brain with the power to strike a keen longing for the person wearing it, years later.

I’ve always been fascinated by how certain smells can carry me back to specific moments in time. Really, isn’t that the whole point of wearing perfume? We claim a scent as our own, hoping that it will soon be associated with us…that we will come to mind upon first whiff. This all makes me think of what Paul said about us…

“For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing…” 2 Corinthians 2:15 ESV

I’ve taught on this verse and written about it. But after this experience with the Ben-Gay, I’ve been struck by another way to look at it.

If I am the fragrance of Christ, I’m hopefully imprinting His scent so fully on those in my circle of influence that, when they run into you, and get a whiff of the same fragrance, they’ll be assaulted by thoughts of Christ. They’ll recognize the scent they’ve smelled before and the memory will rush in, striking a keen longing for a Savior Who loves them. We are not just individuals, sporting our own scent, but we are part of a cumulative effort to live our lives with an aroma that brings Hope to mind.

Today ushers in a season of fragrance and memories. I pray that we’ll walk through it living a life aromatic, and join together to leave Christ’s imprint on the memory of a world that so desperately needs Him.