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The stench gripped my nose. I felt like I could throw up. Normally when you open a pantry, you shouldn’t feel a regurgitation reflex, but recently, it happened. In my pantry!

So, when a family member opened the pantry closet door, the awful oder creeped through the air and arrested the one closest to the door. Quickly, the door would slam. No one wanted to go through that experience again.

I didn’t have time to immediately investigate what was causing such a rotten smell but anytime we opened the pantry for a day or two, we knew we’d need to give it some attention. Eventually, I knew I’d have to clean out shelves in the pantry to determine the root of the nose curling scent.

So, last Saturday, I began the cleaning out process. I began to see globs of yellowish brown liquid in some pans near the bottom shelf. I looked on the shelf above the pans and noticed drips of liquid on the sides of cans. As I traced the origin of the drips on a higher shelf, I held my breath to avoid having to breathe the grossness. It turns out that my chicken stock box had a tiny hole in it where the chicken broth had been slowly leaking out. The broth which had escaped had begun to spoil along with the broth in the box. No wonder my family had given up on opening the pantry door because it was just not worth it.

The situation quickly improved once I tossed out the box of leaky broth with a minute hole and wiped up the drizzles and droplets of broth. The normal scent of the pantry appeared again once the spoiled broth left. It seemed easier to me to just not open the Pantry door at first. I didn’t have time and knew it would take work to take out every single object in the pantry where I store not only food but also pans and appliances. It took time and effort, but I’m glad I dealt with the issue. The satisfaction of discovering the cause led to an outcome that pleased my family: no more stink!

That box of chicken stock liquid got punctured somewhere. It could have been at the store, during the checkout, during the placement of the grocery bags in my trunk, who knows. The point is that the puncture allowed the precious contents of the box to slowly drip, spoil the remaining liquid and cause the stench of rotten chicken in our pantry.

It got me wondering about what kind of scent that my life emits. Could it be that I haven’t dealt with an issue that has been leaking and spoiling somewhere deep in my heart?

What has punctured you during the past year? Was it that hurt, you know, the one that feels like a freshly ripped off bandage, that just won’t heal? The one that makes your heart feel stuck causing you to feel as if you can’t move on? It hurts too much to deal with it so we leave it but the pain gets worse, much like that leaky broth box.

During this past year, the isolation from not being physically present with others in our world has allowed joy to slowly leak out of our hearts. We thought we had plenty of joy but somehow, the grip of the Covid graphs on the nightly news adversely affected my heart. The deaths in the USA alone from Covid or Covid related sicknesses invited fear into our lives while we cheered on the healthcare heroes who wore themselves out to heal those who needed them. The stories of those who could not visit family and friends seemed to make the hole in my joy container a bit larger. The requirement to pivot to new school normals every few months continued the drain. The lost jobs and lack of income created yet another hole in our joy as our friends and neighbors suffered.

Circumstances in our world and in our personal lives can cause a slow leak, draining our peace of mind, contentment and joy. In John 16:33 NKJV, Jesus shared this truth about hard times: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Just as I reached into my pantry closet to remove the culprit causing chaos in my nose, the Holy Spirit can reach way down deep into our hearts to remove or heal whatever it is that drains or undermines the joy that we need to exist.

I know that I can sometimes forget to take these soul draining situations to the Lord in prayer. But that is exactly what he wants. As a matter of fact, I think it’s time to invite him into our true selves, into our problems and just be real. He knows the aroma of fear and will replace it with truth. He overcame the world so that His Holy Spirit can occupy our lives.

Could it be that my life is emitting a scent that alerts my realm of influence that there’s a negative, festering issue that I have not faced? If I am not facing it, then it can’t be understood. I have to be willing to allow the Holy Spirit to maneuver into the contents of my heart and my past then allow him to pinpoint where the hole has punctured my soul. Psalms 147:3 (NLT) reminds us of this eternal truth: He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. He really does do the bandaging allowing healing. I love that he doesn’t throw us away but instead gives time to heal and the minds to experience the new way.

What are some things that we could focus on to renew our minds during this transition period out of quarantine? Do you have anything lurking in the collection in your heart that has become a source of a stench where swarms of negative thoughts have popped a leak in your joy or in your hope? Consider how the God of the universe, who gave His one and only Son for the world to be saved, can be invited into our mess, into our odor caused by the hole. His specialty is in helping, in healing and in offering hope, especially in situations where all hope has vanished or drained away.

Allow his Spirit to enter your heart and be renewed. Be refreshed and know that God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly beyond that which we could ever ask or think. (Ephesians 3:30 NKJV) Could you pause, breathe in and out a few times and release the worry, the hurt, the toxic fumes that could have been gathering inside? He can find that rotten hurt, that old nasty memory and that isolation which changed our world during the pandemic or somewhere in our past. He says to take heart and be of good cheer because He died on the cross and would rise again overcoming death, hell and the grave. It is time to leave our tombs of turmoil and emerge into a new day.

You could ask Him in prayer to reveal to you any area of concern; it could be one that has just sprung a leak or one that has held you captive to the suffocating scent of defeat, of the detrimental circumstances or the downtrodden heart. Whatever it is, God wants to be invited into our mess to resolve the core issue and reveal himself as one who takes care of His own. As I’ve examined my own heart, I am offering my internal stuff that needs attention. When we are open and vulnerable, the Holy Spirit will be able to heal and reveal the heart of God for me and position new shipments of joy, of hope and of peace.

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