The Who, What, Why, When, Where, and How of Invisible Flowers

March 21, 2013

An interesting thing happened at class last night. The teaching was on signs, wonders, and miracles. At the end of the teaching, everyone on the equipping team got up and told of various miraculous encounters they’d had with God. Then one of the team members announced, ‘Tonight we’re going to turn water in to wine.’ Hokay. I admired his fearless ambition, if nothing else. This would be one of those things that didn’t really have a downside. If we don’t turn water into wine, no one goes home having lost their faith. “WOE, IT’S ALL A FRAUD BECAUSE WE WEREN’T ABLE TO REPLICATE CHRIST’S FIRST RECORDED MIRACLE. WHAT NEXT…WE FAIL TO WALK ON WATER?” And if we somehow manage to turn water into wine…well, then, that would be very interesting.

They passed out water in communion cups and we all prayed over our water. After about five minutes of prayer, everyone tasted and smelled their water. All the cups still had water in them. But KT’s cup smelled strongly of flowers. Someone said it smelled like lavender. Maybe lilacs. I can’t remember. It was a flower that started with L. I went and smelled it. It was definitely a strong floral aroma. I asked KT, not accusing but more excited than anything, “You didn’t do anything to it?” He said no. He’s the same guy that correctly called me out in the room with a ‘gristly’ wrist, on the night I got a bona fide healing. Same room, one week prior. I was inclined to trust the guy.

The aroma on the water wasn’t long lasting. When KT first passed it around for people to smell, the bouquet was quite bold, you might say. It tapered off over a couple of minutes and was gone.

So. Apparently God (or someone) changed KT’s water into water that smelled good. Very Interesting.

***

July 30, 2013

I am dragged from a deep sleep by an overpowering smell of flowers. I have no flowers in my apartment. The smell is massive, and I struggle to make sense of what is happening, as I lurch clumsily in wakefulness. Are the neighbors boiling flowers? Why are the neighbors doing such a strange thing as boiling flowers? WHY ARE THE NEIGHBORS BOILING FLOWERS? I am dully sick of living in the same building as other human beings that are not my family.

The smell is gone. As soon as I am awake, slightly alert, and aggravated at my neighbors, who are generally considerate people and have no history of conspicuously boiling flowers, the smell is gone. I am sitting up on the side of my bed, sniffing the air. Where did the smell go? It was just here, waking me up like a mallet to my nose. There’s no trace of the smell. It’s not still overpowering; it’s not somewhat powering; it’s not even fading away. It’s quietly and simply gone. I look at the clock. The time is one minute past 0300. Even at that ridiculous hour of the morning, I know well enough that smells aren’t binary. You can’t turn them on and off like kitchen lights with a wall switch. God just woke me up at exactly 0300 with a blast of flower smell. Sort of a smelling salts thing, waved under my nose, only with a floral twist. It was reminiscent of the smell that fell on KT’s water at class.

I smile groggily and roll to my back. How funny that the Creator of the Universe took the time to wake me out of a deep sleep with the smell of flowers. How much funnier that I don’t bother to consider myself an absolute lunatic for considering such a thing is possible. I am humbled and intrigued.

I begin talking to the Lord in my mind. “Good morning, Lord. I am awake. What do you have in mind for me at 3am, other than the sleep that was happening?” I don’t hear an actual answer. I consider going to the 0600 prayer service at church. And I wonder if I should pray, since God wanted me to be awake. What should I pray about? I begin singing a song in my head using only the word “Hallelujah”, and I say that word over and over in my mind, enjoying the unabashed communion with God. I am prompted to wonder what the word actually means. I turn on my lamp and squint over the stack of books on my nightstand. I dig the Bible dictionary out of the stack and open it. The first key word I see is ‘incense.’ Haha. God is funny. I find what I’m looking for: ‘Alleluja’ is used several times in the Psalms to call a group to worship. Something like that. Notably, its sister word, ‘Hallelujah’, is used in only one chapter of the New Testament – Revelation 19.

The word I’m singing turns in to a song. I am singing the word Hallelujah in my mind. I think it’s a good song. I get out of bed and use my phone to record myself singing the Hallelujah song. Maybe this is why God got me up, to write a song.

***

January 15, 2015

Played the 0600 prayer set today. One of our vocalists went to the corporate mic and said she believed God was telling her our praise was like a fragrance to Him and others around us. She set the mic down, and another person came up and said that they had the exact same impression. Then a third person came up and said the same thing. I’ve been in dozens of these prayer sets now; I’ve never seen three people get up and say they had the same ‘word’ or impression like that. Not to say it’s never happened; but it was unusual, to say the least.

Not sure what it says about me anymore that I didn’t think much of the thing. I take it for granted that it was legitimately as they all three described.  People whom I trust have reported similar circumstances. I’ve been party to getting the same oddball word for someone as another person in the room. I do not discount such things out of hand, as I might have at one time. The people involved this morning are all trustworthy in such matters; there’s no reason to think they were lying for dramatic effect. They got on the mic, said their peace, and were done. We played on.

~

Earlier that morning, while eating breakfast at home, I had read an online argument between cessationists and continuationsts. Cessationists believe, among other things, that the Holy Spirit no longer performs through people via the charismatic gifts listed by St. Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians (12:7-11). Continuationists believe that the Holy Spirit works through and around people even today, just as it did when Paul was counseling the Corinthian church. Reading the contentious response thread at the online article in question, I sighed a familiar sigh.

The argument between the two camps in that discussion thread highlighted a consistent struggle I have in regard to supernatural activity. As far as that online argument goes, I’m no cessationist. There’s nothing in either scripture or practical reality that could lead to me think the Holy Spirit has gone into hibernation. More broadly, if I believe the Holy Spirit is active today, then I likewise believe Satan is a motivated and motivating influence in this fallen world. Forces beyond what humans experience in the visible spectrum are at work near to and in us. Which gets me closer to the point of conflict: if there is a war waged beyond human physical sight, and the warring forces are given to working themselves into and through the physical dimension, then all of us living here in the that physical dimension are compelled to discern which (if either) ‘side’ is responsible for any given apparent metaphysical event. Closer still to my concern: just because something weird and even apparently ‘good’ happens, that’s not de facto proof that the Holy Spirit has prompted the thing to happen. It’s possible for earnest believers to get lost in the weeds of deception or distraction. And the supreme confidence on part of both the cessationists and continuationists in that online discussion revealed my own early-morning insecurities in the matter.

Finishing my breakfast, I lowered my chin to my chest and earnestly implored God to protect me from deception.

~

Within an hour of the three people in our prayer service giving the same ‘word’ to the room, I began to notice a faint smell of flowers while we were playing. I initially assumed absentmindedly that someone had come into the room wearing perfume. The smell rapidly grew stronger and more insistent. None of the three people in my immediate front field of vision were making obvious notice of the smell. Two of those people were within six feet of me. The smell was stronger still and lingering.

That particular prayer set was uploaded to ustream.com. On playback, at about the 1hr 26min mark, I am in the foreground, looking around the room, looking up at the ceiling, trying to find the source of the aroma. Freshly perfumed women? Air fresheners? I saw nothing incriminating. No one new had come into the room. The people already there were stationary and quiet, save for one young woman about thirty feet away in a far corner, who was dancing and praying by herself.

The aforementioned video provides a wide-angle shot of much of the room, including what was (for that one week) a very clear view of the area where I was playing. The video reveals no one sneaking up behind me with a perfume atomizer. It does eventually show me looking over at one of my band mates and asking did said band mate smell flowers. Band mate did not. The aroma had already begun to fade. I was trying to make sense of what was happening. I had clearly been smelling an impressive floral scent; the scent was conspicuous enough that people within six feet of me should have smelled it. I stood and walked behind me about eight feet. JM was back there praying. I asked him if he smelled flowers. He said he hadn’t noticed it until I said anything about it (to the band member, I guess), that it seemed to be concentrated around the area where I was playing.

The smell was completely gone. The whole thing had taken less than two minutes. I sat back down and finished playing the final half hour of our set. Afterwards, BM, the young woman who had initially gone to the corporate microphone, noticed a faint aroma over near where she’d been singing, fifteen feet directly in front of me. It was the same scent I’d smelled about thirty minutes earlier. A handful of people stood nearby, talking something over. They weren’t compelled to talk smells with us. This second iteration of the smell was almost gone by the time BM noticed it. It was completely gone within a minute.

It wasn’t until after I’d left the church that I remembered the three people purporting that God considered our praises to be a fragrance to Him and others. And it was two days later still before I remembered the online discussion and my sincere prayer that God would prevent me being deceived.

***

POST MORTEM

After we pray to turn water into wine, one cup of water has a distinct, brief floral aroma. I trust KT and do not believe he physically manipulated his water to smell like flowers. If someone had altered the smell of the water with some chemical additive, the aroma would not have faded to nothing within minutes. This was a spiritual contact with the physical world. “Was the spiritual agent of God or of the devil?” the concerned believer must ask. To get as close as possible to a definite answer to this question, ask another question: What were and are the fruits of that episode? More precisely, were God’s purposes advanced in the process?

Answer: I don’t know. There were dozens of people in the room, and each one paying attention to the scented water took away their own impression. I was quite interested and primed to not immediately discount the potential for spiritual involvement; the man with the water had just one week prior been party to my first experience with apparent miraculous healing. Not to mention that plain old bottled water had smelled really nice for a few minutes. Two years later, I’ve lost sight of how fascinating it was originally.

Being interested in fascinating things is easy. But I cannot say that God’s purposes were or weren’t advanced. Some Catholic priests describe what they refer to as ‘parlor tricks’ that the devil will use to frighten and confuse during exorcisms. Levitation, physical transformation of the subjects features, temperature change in the room, etc. What if the flower smell was such a demonic parlor trick, designed to distract us in the room from seeing God’s big picture? This kind of supernatural physical manifestation is the sort of thing that many people do fixate on and chase after, at the expense of maintaining a right relationship with God.

A thick flowery smell awakens me from a dead sleep, only to be completely vanished by the time I’m fully awake. It was, as with the previous example, clearly a collision between the spiritual and the physical dimensions. I was awakened at 0300, which time I’ve come to associate with apparent Godly alarm clock awakenings, after many apparently significant dreams have ended in a wake up at precisely 0300 during the past couple of years. Once I was awake, I prayed and worshipped God. I ended up writing the beginnings of a song about praising Him. The experience was peaceful. To that end I would say that God’s purposes on earth were advanced.

A scent of flowers appears in a room while people are playing praise music and offering prayers of worship. A few minutes prior, three people said they thought God was telling them that their praise was a sweet fragrance to Him. The scent is evident to at least two of ten people at any given time, though it’s never evident to everyone in the room. I’m content to believe this was a spirit thing. In the space of a couple of minutes, this smell arose from nothing and grew to a powerful aroma, only to slide back down to nothing. Like a wave. Chemical odors wouldn’t arrive and leave in such fashion. As far as I know. Anyway, there was zero evidence (even with ((especially with?)) the handy video recording) that anyone had introduced a chemical smell into the room.

I can see how this might be a demonic trick, specifically because of the selective application of the smell among available noses. Doesn’t that method make for possible divisions among people? “Why did HE/SHE get the nice flower smell?” Maybe that’s just me projecting my own insecurities on the world around me. I suppose the same thing was possible with KT’s flowery water. Which happened in the same room as the prayer service smell, FWIW.There were a few dozen of us who didn’t get a nice blast of perfume on our water. I couldn’t help but wonder why God would have singled KT out for that contact. KT himself seemed perplexed at the development, so it would have been hard to hold it against him, had I been so inclined.

Anyway, I don’t know if this flower aroma was of God or if His purposes were advanced.

***

Bottom line on all the flower smells: It is interesting. It demands attention, discretion, and discernment. That is all for today. Thank you.

This entry was posted in Otherwise Interesting. Bookmark the permalink.