Wally sauntered into the office today and informed us we had trapped a skunk. If you’ve looked out back behind the church building, you’ve noticed the construction of a pole barn. Lloyd and his crew have been working hard to create a place for storage. One of their first tasks was to dig several holes on which the building’s posts will rest.
A lonely skunk found one of the holes. I wonder what happened. Did he fall in? Was he . . . pushed? According to Wikipedia, “Although [skunks] have excellent senses of smell and hearing — vital attributes in a nocturnal omnivore — they have poor vision. They cannot see objects more than about 3 metres away with any clarity, which makes them very vulnerable to road traffic.” Apparently also to holes.
On hearing the skunk’s plight, James and I grabbed the digital camera and ran out to the hole giggling like schoolgirls. The plank that Wally tossed in it so the skunk could climb out made it easy to locate. Naturally the little fellow was too nearsighted to see the board. As he clawed away at the side of the hole I stood above snapping pictures of his (or was it her) furry, striped little body. Eventually the critter turned a tail to us, and we turned a tail to it, scurrying off to the safety of the church building before suffering the consequences of crossing the fine line between spectator and participant.
Sitting here now, I wonder how often I am like that skunk. Okay, okay, I know what you’re thinking. All jokes about baked beans and clumsiness aside, I’m afraid I am like him more often than I would like to admit.
Believe it or not, this preacher sometimes falls into holes. Morally. Emotionally. Spiritually. I cruise through life, merrily on my way. Suddenly the bottom drops out, gravity takes over, and I plunge downward. A billboard with an immodestly dressed woman catches my eye and, rather than averting my eyes, I linger. Someone criticizes me or I feel taken for granted and my self image plummets. Or, I get so busy doing ministry that I neglect the God for whom I minister. Before long I find myself at the bottom of some chasm staring up at a sky that seems all but unreachable.
Lying there, as I am, at the bottom of my self-made self-pity abyss, what do I do? Too often I dig around, scratching and clawing, looking for some way out, when all along God has placed the means of my escape right there beside me. Or worse – when God peers down to see if I’ll get a clue and crawl out of the pit – I become frightened, turn tail, and stink things up.
Like me skunky friend, my response is completely irrational. I mean, holes happen. Aside from learning to dig less holes on my own, there is little I can do about it. Even if I could stop my own excavations (unlikely as that is) I’ll still stumble into pits dug by other people or even just uncontrollable circumstances. Holes happen. And when they do, I need to learn to stop trying to dig my own way out, look up, and let a far greater being than I can possibly fathom reach down and pull me out from the miry clay of my humanity. And, frankly speaking, maybe you do, too.