“The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD,
but the prayer of the upright is acceptable to him.”
(Proverbs 15:8 (ESV)
I must have missed the memo. Did anyone else know it was Skunk Week? Maybe the drought has made these “odor-able cats” more adventurous, or perhaps with the sunrise coming later every morning, their “up” time and my running time are overlapping. Whatever the case, I saw three skunks in the last week while on my morning run. So be warned, the skunks are out in force.
As a public service, then, I thought I’d share some advice on avoiding skunks that I found at the Animal Planet website. Most of it is common sense – something that, as a runner, I may be lacking.
- Stay Away – Skunks only spray when they are threatened, so keep your distance and don’t threaten the skunk, and you won’t have a problem.
- Freeze – If you do see a skunk at a distance, stop where you are and let it pass. It is the passive approach, but it is effective.
- Speak Softly and Walk with a Big Stomp – Speak in a low voice and stomp your feet. Skunks have poor vision and often spray in defense because they simply don’t know what’s going on. (I tried this approach when I saw one at the corner of 11th and Hillside – the skunk just stood there and looked at me until I decided to turn around and run the other way – not a real effective technique).
- Run… or Shut Your Eyes and Hang On Tight – Right before a skunk lets loose its spray of stinkiness, it stomps its feet and turns around. If you see a skunk doing this little dance, run away or hang on tight, because you’re about to get skunked.
If you do happen to get sprayed remember,
- Everything you touch will smell like skunk, so stay outside
- Don’t soak yourself in tomato juice, or spray on a bunch of air fresheners, unless you want to smell like “fresh morning dew skunk” or “vanilla skunk.” Instead, you have to wash yourself in a special mixture that will neutralize the chemicals in the spray.
Now, as bad as it would be to get sprayed by a skunk, the sad reality is, apart from Christ, we reek of sin and we are an offence in the nostrils of God. The prophet Isaiah writes, “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garments” (Is 64:6). The prayers of the faithful were meant to be a fragrant offering in the presence of God, but because of our wickedness, because of the pride of our hearts, our offerings, our works of righteousness, our best efforts are nothing but an abomination to God.
Unlike the blast of a pole cat, this odor isn’t something we can out run or avoid. We carry it with us. Like the home of a habitual smoker, everything is saturated with the reek. Everything we touch is polluted by our sins. We can try to cover up the offensiveness of our sins with religious showboating and showers of self-righteous, but eventually we’ll all end up smelling of rancid mild and foot. We try to rid ourselves of the smell, but eventually you realize, it’s not the skunk, it’s you that stinks. The odor is coming from your heart. Then what?
Our only hope is to be washed and made clean in Christ Jesus. Repeatedly in the NT, this idea of washing is used to signify our salvation. Paul summarizes the gospel in Titus saying, “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:4–7), and in 1st Corinthians when he writes, “You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor 6:11). Hebrews encourages us to come before God through Jesus, “with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Heb 10:22).
When the Leper came to Jesus for healing in Matthew 8, he cried out “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” And of course, Jesus said in reply, “I am willing, be clean.” Whatever the sin, whatever the offence, whatever blemish you carry, the Lord is able and He is willing to cleanse you; to wash you and make you new. Turn to Him, fix your eyes on Jesus, let his mercy pour over you so that you may lay aside the filthy garments, every weight and sin which clings so closely… and run with endurance the race that is set before us.