My mother enjoyed cultivating roses, so I learned to enjoy their exquisite fragrance. On one occasion I remember accompanying her to choose a new rose plant. The vendor offered her a plant called “moraleche”. This plant is originally from Ambato, a city located in the mountains of Ecuador. It was so beautiful! It had two colors; the outer petals were purple and the inner petals were white. But the beauty of this plant was not only its beautiful appearance, giving a testimony of the Creator who had made it, but its fragrance exceeded any other rose I had ever smelled before.
This experience reminds me that this life is worth living when it produces a fragrance of eternal life. The meekness of which Jesus spoke that produces this kind of exquisite and lasting fragrance is the one you find in the heart, not in a person’s exterior but in his or her interior.
Throughout my life, I have met people whose exterior was very humble, but whose interior showed the strange work Satan is able to do in certain people who allow him to fill their hearts with envy and hate, rancor and bitterness. I have also found persons who exhibit good taste, refinement, and beauty—all the attributes that reflect that which is in our interior. A noble soul’s main objective is to obey and love God and his neighbors.
I remember that my father used to reflect with me about the fact that many people in our church isolate themselves from the external world, that they have no major contact with non-believers. He used to tell me that in John 17, Jesus tells us, “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from evil.” If I may ask, where is the merit of those who have been “protected” inside a bubble? He considered that there was a greater merit in people who mingle with the world and still keep faithful in the midst of temptation and come out victorious. They did not become contaminated, but instead, they permeated those around them with their fragrance.
As Seventh-day Adventist Christians, we should not form an isolationist cult, but should be the salt that gives flavor to the food and the light that dissipates darkness.
The Seventh-day Adventist faith came to my family more than 50 years ago, through my maternal grandmother, who became a disciple for Jesus. She evangelized her family—husband, daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughters—and many more with whom she had the opportunity to meet and help. Her witness did not conclude with only her religion. She was always willing to attend to the physical needs of the people in every way possible.
My family began to love her God, who was now shown to us, as well as the rest of the people. We shared with her as we saw the joy in the faces of the truly needy children, and grateful mothers. We learned about the inestimable value the work done on behalf of the less fortunate.
Since I was in kindergarten, I attended public schools, so I had the opportunity to speak to my classmates about Jesus and all that I learned in church. I could testify that the God whom I served was real and that when we are faithful and remain so even if the whole world is against us, people may sooner or later recognize that it is worth living the way we do. They may feel encouraged to try that which can give purpose to their empty lives.
My parents became vegetarians due to the fact that my mother became ill, and her doctor recommended that she change her diet. Since this was the only way to control this ailment, my father, my sisters, and I decided to follow her. I know that for the majority of people it would have been very difficult, but surely God worked a miracle, for it didn’t take much effort to make the change.
By the time I got to high school, I was considered the most “weird of the class” because of my faith. To make matters worse, I was also a vegetarian. For the most part, my classmates respected me, but there were a few who mocked me, and whenever this occurred, God helped me know how to respond. Those who were my classmates had not yet accepted my faith, but all of them got to know about it at that time.
I thank my grandparents and parents for the education they gave me, first in my home, which set the base for my temperament: to put God first, develop my own personality, and live a transparent life. The academic preparation that I received opened before me a greater vision of life, an acceptance of my own self and an awareness of those around me, not to become like them but to accept them as they are and to try for that fragrance to come out from me to fill my own life and the lives of those who surround me.
In God’s Word, Joseph, Daniel, and his friends are some of the most notable examples of young people who were educated in their homes by their parents in the love of God. They learned the simple jobs of life, but at the same time they were academically prepared in a special way. Their parents guided them to always seek excellence; had it not been this way, Joseph would have never been elected second to Pharaoh. Nor would Daniel and his friends have experienced success within the courts of Babylon.
In Ephesians 5:2 the apostle Paul says, “And live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
A legend tells of a traveler who found a very fragrant piece of clay. It emitted such an intense and sweet smell that it permeated the whole room. “Tell me, what are you?” asked the traveler. “Are you a rare pearl from a foreign country? Or an exotic nard that dresses up with clay? Or some other costly merchandise?”
“No! I am a common piece of clay.”
“And how is it that you expel such extraordinary scent?”
“The secret of my mysterious fragrance, my friend, is that I have lived under the shade of a rose.”
Certainly, love is a principle which never changes. No matter how strong the winds blow, the fragrance remains, and when each of us takes possession of this love that only the true God can bestow, we begin to exhale this special and lasting fragrance that permeates our whole life. It is no longer a feeling that springs forth occasionally, it is now a lifestyle that we can live happily! We will never be the same again, for we begin to understand that life is worth living. We share the fragrant smelling perfume of God with everyone else.