by Emily Conrad
One of my favorite scents, floral or otherwise, is that of lavender. The plant itself isn’t showy, but it is graceful with its gentle bends and muted colors. An admirer through and through, when we moved into this house, I took the risk of planting one, even though we’re in a borderline area where it may or may not survive the cold of winter.
(A picture taken shortly after I planted it was the last image in last year’s post When Dreams Appear Little or Dying.)
When I was taking inventory of my plants this spring, the lavender appeared to be nothing but dead sticks. I left it alone, and a few weeks later, those dead sticks came to life with new growth. Now, I have a little, flourishing lavender plant, celebrating its second year with a crop of tiny flowers.
I thought that a plant so prized for its scent could be brought in and would let off its perfume as it hung to dry. I took a couple of sprigs, tied them with twine, and hung them from the knob of my medicine cabinet.
And then, nothing.
No pretty scent as I entered the room. No wafting lavender smell when I leaned close.
I rolled a couple of the leaves between my fingers, and there it was, a strong invitation to relax and savor, a scent as pampering as a pedicure, as luxurious as the velvet sleep mask I keep next to my bed.
That velvet eye mask actually has dried lavender inside it. If I scrunch it a bit before putting it on, I can fall asleep to the scent.
And so, I’m learning: whether fresh or dried, lavender doesn’t release its fragrance until it’s pressed.
Lavender and I have that in common.
How else can I explain why writing comes more easily when I’m pressed by hard situations?
When I look for God in those pressing situations, I find He is not only there; He’s been preparing me to be there.
Like lavender carries beautiful scent within long before circumstances reveal it, in times of trouble, I find myself recalling tidbits of Bible verses and reassurance I hadn’t thought much about before; I find perspective and hope, all of it already stored up, just waiting to be released.
This isn’t something I’ve done any more than lavender could cause the sun to shine. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. Through times of trouble, God reveals what He’s taught me in the secret heart and He adds to that new understanding because, when pressed, I’m more thirsty for it than ever.
Not that I have a perfect track record for this. I do not.
Sometimes, it takes quite a while for the scent of grace and love and peace and hope to rise.
In some cases, I suppose I’m still waiting for it.
But on the whole, I’ve found that the pressing times bring out the scent of heaven in my life in a way that nothing else does.
I will give you hidden treasures,
riches stashed away in secret places,
so you may recognize that I am the Lord,
the one who calls you by name, the God of Israel
Isaiah 45:3, NET
And, so, though I don’t always manage it, today I’m grateful for the pressing times. But even more, I’m grateful for my Father, who has stashed riches for me here that I might know Him better.
Whatever is pressing you today, may you also find treasures. May you inhale the scent of Jesus’s mercy, grace, love, and peace. May you find comfort in the valley to the point that you can–with confidence–recite Paul’s words from 2 Corinthians 4:8-10:
We are experiencing trouble on every side, but are not crushed; we are perplexed, but not driven to despair; we are persecuted, but not abandoned; we are knocked down, but not destroyed, always carrying around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our body. (NET)
Another translation of that verse is that we’re “pressed” on every side.
And in this life, the Bible assures us, we will be pressed. But that is only the start of the story. Breathe deep. The best is yet to come.
This is such a beautiful post, Emily. Nothing like the aroma of heaven to surround us during hard times. <3
Amen! Thanks for stopping by, Rachel!
You're so right, Emily. The hard times so often bring us into an intimacy with God many of us don't have in the good times. It's too easy to "forget" about God, pursuing His word, etc., when all is going well in our lives. But when those hard times come, they bring a thirst and desperate need for all He offers. I'm not mature enough to thus pray for hard times, but they certainly do strengthen our faith and give us a relationship with God that the good times don't yield.
Lovely analogy Emily and a lesson I've learned well over time. No one likes those crushing seasons…but the gleaning that comes through in the end is worth it all. Somehow, as only he can, God brings us through those hard places. That was my most recent blog post after being inspired by a struggling petunia plant. I love how God speaks to our hearts through the everyday simple things! Blessings.
So true and so refreshing, Emily. Thanks for this beautiful insight. It's through those time of pressing–as uncomfortable or even traumatic as they can be–that we release the loveliest scent, the fragrance of Christ <3
Yes! Plants have inspired so many of my posts, too! I'll have to read yours. Thanks for sharing the link and stopping by today.
Thanks for reading, Jebraun! In the midst of the discomfort, it's sometimes hard to remember how much the pressing does–wouldn't you know, the same day this post went live, I ended up in a new "pressing" situation?–but I'm grateful God uses it all.
I don't ask for the hard times, either, but like you, I'm grateful that God uses them so powerfully that it's possible to recognize blessings even in the midst of them. <3