A few months back, I awoke at 3:30 in the morning, because we had a visitor at my house. A very unwelcome visitor. A skunk.
Now this happens occasionally where we live, but this time the stench was unbelievable. It was so bad I thought I was going to be sick. I jumped out of bed to close the window – but the window was already closed. It was almost like the skunk had already gotten into the house – it was that bad.
I don’t know much about skunks, but as incredibly foul as the smell was I wondered: do skunks travel in PACKS? Because this COULDN’T have been just ONE… This had to be the work of a SKUNK ARMY or something.
I think most of what I know about skunks comes from the movie “Bambi” – you remember that cute little skunk named Flower? I’m beginning to suspect that that movie was mostly fiction…
So, lying there in bed I started wondering: how can a skunk stand itself? Does it just get used to the smell? Or does it actually like it? Maybe for a skunk that smell is actually pleasant – like smelling roses or pine trees. We perceive the smell as Pure Evil Nastiness, while they perceive it as a beautiful aroma?
SEEMINGLY UNRELATED CONFESSION: A couple of weeks ago, I told a very small LIE.
I was talking to a complete stranger who asked me an extremely personal question. I could’ve just said “hey now, that’s pretty personal, dude…” but instead I gave him an answer to shut him up. I lied. And, I have to admit, that lie really didn’t bother me much.
So I was thinking about the fact that I didn’t seem to feel guilty about that lie and that raised the question: how seriously do I take sin?
We know that God can’t tolerate sin – that it is an “offense” to him. Maybe we should think of it this way: sin is a stench in the nostrils of God.
Yes, I just typed “nostrils of God…” But let’s think of it that way. Our sins are an OFFENSE. Like the smell of a skunk.
I think sometimes we imagine God looking down and saying “tsk tsk, naughty naughty, I wish you wouldn’t do that” – but we figure He’s not really bothered much by our little sins.
We need – no, I need to remember that it was because of my sins that Christ died. God doesn’t regard sin casually. God takes sin seriously – and has provided us a very costly way of forgiveness through Christ. My “little lie” didn’t hurt anybody, but my integrity takes a hit every time I’m willing to be less than honest.
After the skunk incident, I asked my kids to help me paraphrase Isaiah 1:18 (“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow”) and they came up with: “Though your sins stink like a skunk, they shall be made to smell like roses (Josiah), made to smell like molten chocolate (Emily) and cookies baking (Josiah again).
Lord forgive us for our casual attitude about the things that offend You. Amen.