Skunks and the Power of Sin

If you've ever smelled a skunk, you’ll never forget it. 

I have some powerful memories associated with skunk stink. Like the day the neighbor’s dog chased one up a tree. They bathed him in gallons of tomato juice because someone said it would remove the smell, but it didn’t. Rex was never the same. 

Or the time we hit a skunk on the highway. Thankfully we were driving a rental car. Sorry, Hertz. 

The most pungent memory I have of skunk stink, however, dates back to a summer night when I was ten. Because we lived near a creek, we’d often smell skunks in the evenings, after the sun went down. The striped fellows are nocturnal and would prowl the area around the creek hunting for food. Our garden was often the target of their late-night raids. 

One hot night in August we not only smelled the stinky fellow, we heard him—ripping down the cornstalks in our little garden. Dad turned on the porch light in a feeble attempt to frighten him away, but it was useless. I wondered later if the light might have helped the skunk better spot the juiciest ears, because he kept on munching. Dad didn’t dare go outside and risk being sprayed by the odorous creature. 

“We’ll just have to wait ‘til morning to see what’s left,” he said with a shake of his head. As I lay in my bed, I swear I could hear that skunk licking his lips as he feasted on the corn I had hoped to enjoy.  

The next morning Dad was the first out the back door. I watched as he unlatched the gate and headed to the corner of the garden where the corn stalks used to stand. Suddenly, he stopped in his tracks and started backing up. How someone can move slowly and quickly at the same time, I’m not sure, but Dad did. Like rapid slow motion, he backpedaled until he was safely on the back porch again. 

“What’s wrong?” I asked, craning my neck to see what he had seen. 

“Skunk,” he said, wiping his hand across his forehead and pointing. “He must’ve tried to go under Mrs. Sousa’s chain link fence and got stuck.” 

In true Winnie the Pooh fashion, that’s exactly what had happened. The fencing was flexible, but the posts were cemented into a concrete footer that stretched the length of the yard. It was an easy way into the garden, but with a belly full of fresh corn, not an easy way out. 

I remembered this event recently when I read Proverbs 29:6: 

“An evil man is snared by his own sin, but a righteous one can sing and be glad.” 

I don’t know how many times mankind has been trapped, just like that engorged skunk, by the after-effects of our uncontrolled cravings. The desire for self-esteem, power, prestige, money, love, affirmation, respect, sexual fulfillment, or possessions isn’t wrong, just like food to fill a hungry skunk’s belly isn’t wrong.

But when we seek to satisfy these desires in the wrong way, we grant them the power to control us. Instead of allowing God to meet our needs according to his plan and purpose for our lives, we take matters into our own hands, often with disastrous results. 

James 1:14 warns us, “Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” 

Thankfully, the animal control officer arrived quickly with a very long pole with a hook at the end. He gently lifted the fence enough for our bloated visitor to wriggle free and waddle away without incident. 

When we become trapped by the consequences of sin, however, we don’t usually find such an easy solution. The effects can be far-reaching and devastating. 

If you’re trapped today, there’s only one way to break free. You can’t do it in your own power. You have to call on Jesus. 

Confess your sin. Tell him you don’t want to live this way anymore. Invite him into your life, and ask him to change you from the inside out. 

This is your only hope. But it is a good hope. A true hope. A hope that has changed the lives of millions down through the ages. 

The hope Jesus offers can free you from the trap of alcohol, drugs, sex, pride, pornography, homosexuality, selfishness, bitterness, loneliness, gossip, and envy. Whether you’re trapped by a “big” sin or a “little” sin, Jesus is the only answer. 

I hope you’ll call on him today. 

Lord Jesus, I need your help. I can’t live like this any longer. I need the peace, freedom and restoration only you can give. I confess the sin of ___________ and ask you to remove it from my life. Change me and make me more like you. Show me what to do next and give me the strength to do it. In the strong name of Jesus I ask, Amen. 

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Cor. 5:17).

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