I love living in the mountains of Flagstaff. The air is clean and crisp, the forest is thick with lush pine trees, and the night sky is a velvet blanket dotted with a million diamonds that continually assure me that my God is a great big God. One of the beautiful things about this area is the variety of wildlife. I recently learned first hand about one particular variation of the wildlife here on the mountain. One night about midnight, I let Fitzie, our golden doodle puppy, out in the back yard to do her business one final time for the night. As I watched her scamper out the back door, I noticed she immediately ran toward the back of the shed in the rear of the yard.
I wondered what had drawn her attention to that area, but there wasn’t much I could do about it, as she was there in no time. Within a few moments, she turned and moved the other way across the back of the yard. After doing her business, she headed in and came through the back door of the house. I immediately knew something was not right. She stunk to high heaven. It hit me that our adorable little puppy had been sprayed by a skunk. She was completely unaffected by her newly acquired body odor, however. She trotted into the family room and began rolling around happily on the rug. My husband joined me from across the room to assess the situation.
“Ooooh, yuck,” he bemoaned. “She stinks!” The question of the moment quickly became what to do about our stinky puppy. It was midnight, and we were already tuckered out from a long Sunday. We were ready for bed, but this had to be dealt with. We quickly got Fitzie into her kennel and pulled out our iPads to google what to do. As it turns out, dogs getting sprayed by skunks is not so uncommon in some parts. We learned that dealing with the problem quickly is best. So, after midnight, my husband ran to Wal-Mart to get the ingredients to mix up our concoction of “skunkdifying” shampoo. We got Fitzie into the bathtub and began, ever so gently, cleaning her with the solution so as not to hurt her eyes or sensitive spots with the harsh chemicals. She was so good through it all. She patiently let us wash her with washcloths and then soaked in the solution for ten minutes before undergoing the rinse. Once we had her rinsed and towel-dried, we were thrilled to find that the terrible skunk odor was completely gone. Mission accomplished!
Lessons learned? Hmmm, let’s see. Make sure to take precautions to keep skunks out from underneath your property structures? Don’t wait until midnight to let your puppy out for the night? Be sure to have on hand plenty of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dish detergent? When it comes to skunk odor elimination in the wee hours of the morning, any of these is probably wise. The thing that keeps coming back to me as I chuckle about the whole spectacle is how oblivious Fitzie seemed to be when we first brought her in from backyard skunkville, and then how trusting and submissive she was when we were getting her cleaned up through it all.
Like it or not, most of us followers of Christ were or are stinky, even after we’ve been walking with Christ for a while. We get stinky from all the junk and nastiness this world surrounds us with. So often, we don’t immediately realize it, and we walk around with the bad odor of everything from unforgiveness, anger, bitterness, offense, jealousy, envy, a critical spirit, unwholesomeness, and the like. Praise God we have a Heavenly Father who loves us way too much to let us stay in that stinky condition. He says to us through the Holy Spirit, “You need to be cleaned up, and I will do that for you.”
And then, He does just that. At least, He does if we cooperate with Him. The Holy Spirit is so gentle and loving, as He takes each of us willing ones and removes the things from our hearts and minds and lives that smell bad in His nostrils. “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.” (2 Cor. 2:14-16.) God gives us His sweet fragrance, which we in turn carry to those around us in this world.
The Holy Spirit desires continually to speak to our hearts and thoughts to help us be more like Christ. Sometimes we may not be aware that we have things in our lives that He wants to change and clean up. But if we intentionally open our hearts and thoughts to the Holy Spirit daily, He most certainly will speak to us in ways we can understand and respond to. And as He speaks, if we present ourselves to Him as willing and cooperative to His changing us, He will accomplish in us far more than we could ever do with our own efforts of self help and good works. Today is a good day to inhale deeply and say, “Yes, Holy Spirit.”