My eyes were drawn to the late model refrigerator recently donated to Bud’s Warehouse and now displayed on the showroom floor. I opened the door to see if the inside matched the attractive exterior. An unpleasant aroma assaulted my nose and changed my opinion. There are few smells worse than a donated refrigerator gone bad. Indeed, we spend much time attempting to avoid nasal abuse by scrubbing newly arrived refrigerators with high-powered cleaning agents. But occasionally one sneaks by or it is coated with some odor-causing agent that is impervious to our efforts. As they say, one bad smelling refrigerator can spoil the whole bunch.
But in the opposite way, a pleasant aroma attracts interest like the warm smell of hot chocolate on a cold winter day. Or hot burritos and tacos ready for a surprise birthday luncheon for one of our employees. Some smells invite while others repel.
Similarly, there are people that naturally attract others and there are individuals that make people want to leave. One person who continually draws people in like fresh baking bread is my friend Jude DelHierro of Confluence Ministries. I like spending time with him because he is a living example of someone who “spreads everywhere the fragrance and knowledge” of God. (2 Corinthians 2:14, NIV)
For the last two months, Jude has been dreaming about a Christian businessperson purchasing a laundromat that is for sale in Confluence’s West Colfax neighborhood. Last Friday, Jude and I finally figured out a time to visit the laundromat together. We showed up two hours too late. The owner, an immigrant from Cambodia, told us he had just returned from his attorney’s office where he had signed the closing documents. He seemed upset. Jude asked him some simple questions. Where are you from? How long have you owned the business? What are your future plans? The man opened up to us. He shared how his American dream had taken a very bad turn. He now hoped to turn the page and start over.
Jude asked him if it would be all right if we prayed for him. The man observed that we must believe in God. We said yes and asked him if he did. He nodded and we spent the next five minutes praying for him right in the middle of a bustling laundromat. I smelled the soap from the washers and the fabric softener from the dryers. I heard Jude speak words of blessing. During a sad day filled with one man’s disappointment, I smelled the aroma of grace.