My wife, and kids, and I were at Wendy's after church last sunday visiting with some long time friends of ours. Brian and Paula, are missionaries home on furlough, and both have had quite the impact on Leah and I. Brian is one of the deepest, most profound, persons I know. There's times when he takes these long breathes, and then he makes this face, this face that might look mean if you didn't know him well, and following those long breathes he speaks these words that seem like radio transmissions directly from Heaven. He has been a prophetic voice in my life and I can recall the times he has prayed over me better than most other times. Paula has a smile that cuts to the heart and brings encouragement with out words even being spoke. These two are some of my favorite people.
So Brian had mentioned to me that his family would be partaking in their annual Christmas tree burning ritual the following day. I was intrigued by this unorthodox practice, and was sure that this must be a deep, powerful, and moving experience for his family. I approached Paula about it and asked several times... "but what is the signifigance of the ceremony". Finally she explained... "nothing, I'm just married to a pyro!" Laughing she insisted that we smell their van. Hesitant, because ours often smells of old chicken nuggets and french fries, I did. The van, stuffed with fir branches, was full of Christmas conifer aroma, and I felt like they were some how sharing their family tradition with us. Isaac, wanting to do whatever his dad does, also smelled the van; and in his loudest four year old voice proclaims... "It smells like beer!"
Now I have not been able to figure out why Isaac associated the smell of tree branches with the smell of fermented beverage, but in a group of fundalmentalist, charismatic, recovering pharisees this was about the funniest thing anyone could have said! We said good night, got in our own van and drove home. Laughing... Quietly... then outloud, and again quietly. I was so encouraged by the fellowship of other believers. Why is it I sometimes expect God to only work in profound deep "aha" moments? Why is it I sometimes miss the general revelation he has intentionaly placed with in creation?
I am reminded once again, and I am so thankful, that God has created us to be in relationship, not just with Him, but also with others... and sometimes those relationships or at least the places where those relationships grow... are very ordinary and somewhat routine. I am reminded that if I'm not careful I might miss these moments. I am reminded that these messages of encouragement often come from unexpected places and that sometimes...well, they may smell like beer.