The Smell of His Skin

I ended my road run on the beach the morning after we arrived. Up the boardwalk stairs, I could smell it before I saw it.

I always loved that first look at the ocean after a year spent only viewing it in my memory.

I had forgotten, in that moment, that the last time I was at the beach was one of the last times I’d seen my father. And that my father was the one who’d indoctrinated me into loving the ocean and the clay-like sand between my fingers and the mystery of the world I didn’t know that brimmed below it’s surface.

Sometimes I’d mis-diagnose an ocean scent for the smell of his salty skin wrapped around my little-girl sunburn, after a long day of building cities in the sand. One melded into the other. I didn’t know the ocean apart from my daddy.

Until this particular summer.

Grief’s waves overwhelmed me, unsuspecting, in that second. His memory was so thick in the place we visited but once a year. I strangely expected to see him on the other side of the boardwalk. He initiated me into this great wide playground and I was now experiencing it without him.

Is this what they felt, the morning after He died or the days after he ascended? Could they still smell the sweat of His experience against the desert’s receiving of him? Did they close their eyes and picture the look in His eye when they first met him or the dirt of gethsemane, stained wet with his tears?

I look at the early church, relentless in love, and wonder what memory did for their devotion.

They saw His eyes. God wept tears, to them. His calloused fingers brushed their skin.

They walked with God and we live our days wondering if the Word, pregnant with promise, could possibly be real for us.

How would we live if we had smelled His blood-stained sweat?

Enter adoration. Giving praise back to God, using His Words in our vernacular.

The Jesus they remember lives inside of me. And when I make Him a textbook, a lesson to be extracted, I lose the power of the Person I was meant to encounter through His Word.

Lately, I’ve been adoring God by asking the God inside of me to make those moments in His Word alive to me. And praising Him for what I see when I step into the gospels.

At dinner, Nate asked the children: “what’s your favorite thing that happened in the Bible?” One told about that man who died and Jesus came a few days later to raise him from the dead and, another, described Him riding on a donkey. I held back tears as they described little-girl versions of the big God — the very ones around which I’d been adoring just days earlier. It was like I was right back at the beach two summers ago, expecting my daddy to be around the corner. The scent of His memory was that thick.

All because of adoration.

Might I be so bold as to say this little practice of adoration is changing my thirty-something insides? Daily.

Praise God for Mondays, when the column on the right-side of my blog moves front and center here. Would you consider the challenge so many others have taken** to adore Him, with me, through the gospels?***

Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.  Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” . . . Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. And He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!” An excerpt from John 11:1-44

 It was that Mary. The one You had said who found the one thing that was needed, then, now stirred Your spirit again. Did You weep because she wept? She spoke the same words as her sister, in response to this pain and Your delay — yet it was to her that You wept.

What does this say about You, God?

You made Yourself into flesh which could be moved by flesh. You loved. Not coldly or distant, but stirred by the ones You formed. I adore You, God, who didn’t just put on my frame but allowed Yourself to be moved by my heart cries.

Your Son wept my tears. Ethereal love was made real, tangible, through the God who put on man and lived man’s pain. Oh God who knows me, Your life bent downward so that I would know You, inward.

What great lengths You went to, for me.

You didn’t just teach me, You loved me by living in me and then letting me live and breathe You.

You remembered her extravagant love. You, oh God, made Yourself to be one who received from those You made. What kind of love is this?

You knew her, not only from creating her but from receiving her offering. You loved her and her loss made You weep. 

I love how You love.

Your wet tears fell on dusty desert roads. Holiness spilled out onto the earth You spoke into existence. Just as You received her, Your earth received a symbol of the humanity You wore in that time when love broke through flesh. The sounds of Your heart, borne outward as You wept, were heard by broken people. You let broken people witness Your body’s manifestation of love, broken for them.

I adore You, God-made-flesh-but-not-compromised.

And the way this all ended was a new beginning for them, for all of them who witnessed. And for me, if I hear the Words You spoke then, deep in my spirit now. “Lazarus, come forth!” His end was Your beginning. His death, Your opportunity.

Oh God, this upside down world You’ve created is limitless against my desert days. 

I adore You, oh One who calls me forth. I worship You, oh God, not threatened by what I might see as death.

You confound me.

I love Your mystery, made known to me.


 **I absolutely treasure your stories. I love the memorials coming my way. What’s being erected over your lives is fuel in mine: He is good. With a life of four-being-restored and two of us not too far ahead of them, I don’t have as much time as I’d like to respond to every email, message and comment. Though the demands under my roof may not allow much time to respond to these, please know I am honored by what you’ve sent me and the time you took to tell me your story. They are gifts to me.

***For a context to this little space on my blog, read: Why I Adore. For a more detailed description of how to start adoring Him in your day-to-day, read: Showing Up. You can easily subscribe to these devotional meditations as they are delivered, by using this feed: or by entering your email address in the second box on the right-hand side… (scroll up a bit).

Photos compliments of Mandie Joy.