Fire and Fragrance

fire and fragrance

A few weeks ago I went looking for my Watchman Nee devotional book and found not one but two on my shelf. So I’ve been reading them both each day, pondering the thoughts of this godly man. Last week, I read this Daniel verse in one book, the 2 Corinthians verse in the other.I confess, I would have never thought of these verses as fitting next to one another. And yet the juxtaposition of those two thoughts on the same day were . . . God.

Watchman Nee says this in regard to the familiar story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego:

“Some find a furnace rather close quarters for three, so they seek a way of escape; others accept the limitation, and in accepting it, make room for a Fourth. Not to let difficulties shut us out from God, but to let them shut us in to Him, that is enlargement through pressure.” 

I pondered that amazingly convicting thought for a while before turning to the same day in the second book, where I found this:

“Spiritual fragrance . . . comes from a heart relationship with God which is born of communion and obedience . . . the fragrance which comes from a Spirit-directed life . . . originates from Christ, and it points men not to us but to Him.” 

Another deep and interesting–and convicting–thought, to be sure. But what, really, do fire and fragrance have to do with one another?


Consider Daniel 3:27:

“The satraps, the prefects, the governors and the king’s high officials gathered around and saw in regard to these men that the fire had no effect on the bodies of these men nor was the hair of their head singed, nor were their trousers damaged, nor had the smell of fire even come upon them.” (emphasis mine)

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego came out of the fire–the place of enlargement through pressure–without the smell of fire upon them. What did they smell like? I imagine it was that spiritual fragrance Paul describes so many thousands of years later to the church at Corinth. A fragrance born of relationship and obedience. Of walking through the fire with Jesus. A fragrance that astounded everyone in the vacinity of these men, pointing them not to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, but to their God, as evidence by Nebuchadnezzar’s response in Daniel 3:28-29.

Oh, that my “fires” might enlarge and not shrink my faith. That I might walk away from the flames smelling of Jesus, not smoke. And according to Corinthians, my part in that is only trust and surrender. God is the one who brings the desired result. He who “always leads us in triumph in Christ” and “manifests through us . . . the knowledge of Him in every place.”