I was visiting a friend the other day, and we were talking.
She is rather an active person, and while I was sipping tea at the kitchen
counter, she played the exciting and fun game she calls, “What’s that smell” with her
Her refrigerator is new and efficient, but it had developed
a weird smell. It was full of good food, but every time she opened the door,
this strange odor wafted out. It wasn’t terribly bad, but it was NOT a food
smell, and it kind of turned my appetite off.
Here’s how to play “What’s that smell?”
First set aside some time: I’m going to do this; I’m not
going to be interrupted.
In our version, you’ll want to prepare yourself. Call a friend. “I’m going in.
Then open the door, and start looking for the smell. Pick a
shelf: start at the front, and open every container on the shelf. I usually
start on the bottom shelf because that’s where my refrigerator is likely to
have the most interesting colors and textures.
For every container: Lift the lid. Look at what’s inside.
Then give it the Sniff Test. Is it nutrition, or is it a science project?
Somewhere near the back of the fridge, you’ll probably find
something really interesting. My friend – who was cleaning her fridge while I
sipped tea and tried to say encouraging things – discovered some candy she bought on a
trip to Sweden.
Two years ago. She didn’t remember it being that color. Or that slimy.
When you find the source of your smell, you win the prize!
Put on heavy rubber gloves, take the prize container out, and throw its
contents away. Sometimes it’s better to throw the whole container away still
sealed. Then take the trash out immediately.
Now it’s time for a choice. You’re all dressed for the mess,
and you’ve already won one prize. Do you stop there, or do you go for an extra
bonus prize? Since you’re already prepared, maybe pick another shelf and keep looking: Lift the lid. Unwrap the
tinfoil. Look at what’s inside. Then give it the Sniff Test. Is it nutrition,
or is it a science project?
Doesn’t that sound like a fun game?
Let’s take a left turn for a moment.
Hebrews 12:1: Therefore we also,
since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside
every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with
endurance the race that is set before us….
We want to run, but stuff is holding us back. Some of what is holding us back is
sin. Some is just weight that hinders us. Some is buried wounds that have never healed. Some of the weight is made up of lies: lies from the enemy, lies that we've told ourselves. And some, we may never know what it used to be; we just know we need to get rid of it because it smells yucky.
How many of us are hungry for revival, and we want to be
part of what God is doing, but we know we’re not really ready for it? We know
there’s garbage in our soul that’s whispering to us, “Sit back down there. Who
do you think you are, wanting to be part of a move of God like that?” Sometimes
we’re already aware that there’s stuff in our lives that needs to go. Or some
of us are thinking, “I’m already dying! How in the world am I going to keep up
with a move of God?”
That’s who I’m talking about: we need to get rid of the
stuff that’s weighing us down. Like I said: some is sin, some is woundedness, some is just weight. But there isn’t any part of it we want to keep, is there? So the source hardly matters, because the real question is how do we deal with it? How do
we get from where we are, weighed down, to where we need to be, free from crud
and ready to go?
It’s time to play “What’s that Smell?”, but this time, we
play with the help of the Holy Spirit, and we play in the confines of our own
Jesus has sent the Holy Spirit to live in us, but He
doesn’t come as a quiet house-guest, sitting around, bored, waiting for you to
John 16:7 Nevertheless I
tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go
away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.
8 And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin , and of
righteousness, and of judgment.
One of the specific assignments the Holy Spirit has before
Him is to convict us of a number of things. That conviction is the smell we’re
looking for! That nudge of the Holy Spirit is what we’re going to be looking for.
“Holy Spirit, show us, teach me: what can you show me that’s slowing me down?
What can I get rid of? Help me find it and jettison it. Convict me of every
weight, and of the sin, every lie, every piece of crap which so easily ensnares me please!”
I find that praying in the Spirit for a while as I begin the
process is helpful for establishing a fruitful context for these soul-searching
There are a couple of things we’ll probably find as we allow
the Holy Spirit to search our soul, as we sniff through every possible
container of our heart:
Nutrition: Quite a lot of what you find will end up being
testaments to God’s grace: Memories of His provision, places where you’ve
cleaned out former messes and been forgiven, lessons learned. These, we keep.
We might even organize the shelf so we can remember them better.
The Leftover Leftovers: Some of the interesting smells we
find will be just the residue of life: little offenses we need to forgive, or
things we weren’t paying attention to that we need to repent of. If we don’t go
looking for them, we’ll never find them. They're not "big deals," but
we want to get rid of them anyway: like the "little foxes" of Song of
, they’ll spoil our tenderness if left unchecked.
The Slime: Sometimes, there’s just stuff that gets us: we
just get slimed. We didn’t go looking for sin, it came and jumped us when we
weren’t looking. And just like that green slimy gunk that grows in the back of
the fridge, it needs to get washed away.
False Advertising: the enemy is pretty good at slipping lies in among the food. And if we’re honest, we're not so bad at it ourselves, telling little lies to keep from dealing with the real issues that face us. These gotta go!
The Science Projects: the hidden things in the back shelves
of the fridge that stink – these are the weights and the sin that so easily
entangles us. It’s in there somewhere, and it might be disguised as food, or it
may be surrounded by a cloud of green spores, but it’s something we don’t need
to carry with us.
The solution for whatever we find is pretty much the
same: repent. Change the way you see that thing.
If you find a place of sin that you haven’t seen in yourself
before, then it’s easy to repent; now that you know what it is, you can choose
to go another direction. As long as we’re there, we might want to repent for
letting our guard down, for not keeping watch over our soul, for not catching
this earlier. This is a good place to cheat: to ask, "What more can I repent of here, Holy Spirit?"
If you find a place of unforgiveness there, we can repent
for holding on so long to the offense, and we can choose to forgive.
If you find a place of hurt or woundedness there, we can
repent for holding on, for believing the thing that holds us there. We can also
forgive the one who hurt us, and ask God for healing. We can’t ever change what they did to us, but we can change what it did to us, how we react to it.
The goal here is to find the smell. Wherever the funny smell
is, go looking there. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring His conviction, and show us all of the
details that we need to know in order to repent well.
Press especially hard into the places where your soul says,
“I don’t want to go there” or “It hurts to look at that.” Those are the really
rich places. Look into those places, not away from them.
The degree that your flesh resists looking into something indicates the
potential for God’s healing and grace that we get to have when we press through
the resistance, with His help, of course!
Give everything the sniff test: is this nutrition, or is it
a science project?
So. You’ve probably figured out that in the end, this is all
about repenting, changing how we think. We don’t just wait for the Holy Spirit to tackle us on the big
and ugly issues that need repenting: because we believe that repentance brings
forgiveness, cleansing and other good things, we go looking for
places where we get to repent. There are two reasons I love repentance:
Cleanliness: The more we find, the more we experience forgiveness. The
more forgiveness we walk in, the cleaner our heart is, and the more that God can trust
us with His secrets, His treasures. And the more we receive His forgiveness,
the more we can walk boldly in Him: no condemnation, no worries, no “if
only’s.” We’re free.
Intimacy: The process of partnering with the Holy Spirit to
accomplish His heart’s desire is an inherently intimate one. In my experience,
Clean Refrigerator Prayers are a great way to develop a powerful intimacy with
the Spirit of God.