Like most people, I have an evening ritual. After the dinner dishes are done and the kitchen is tidy, I get the living room ready for our evening entertainment. I roll the vertical blinds down to cover the windows, and turn on a lamp. From the closet, I retrieve our throw blankies and special couch pillows so we can snuggle in.
One night, as I was closing the blinds, something caught my eye in the darkening of the dusky evening. I happened to glance across the street at what appeared to be a black and white writhing roller coaster of fur. As I focused in the receding light, I saw three skunks wrestling and playing in the irrigation ditch. The way they jumped and frolicked was utterly adorable. They pounced on each other with silly abandon, running in circles and laughing. At least I perceived it as laughter. I could hear them making a joyful noise of enthusiastic delight, that was absolutely contagious. It sounded like giggling! Those skunks were having a blast dodging in and out of a culvert; being completely free and uninhibited.
The skunks reminded me of Jesus and His amazing love. We might have been famous for our stench resulting from the old life of sin and shame. We may have been bound by the opinions of others, by our flesh and by an unforgiving heart for those who hurt us. We once were slaves to our addictions, servants to old habits and lies. We were selfish and unloving; miserable and full of fear.
But Jesus grabs hold of us, removes the smell of death, fear and futile self-defense. He becomes our defender, our deliverer and our protector. He bathes us in His blood and conditions us with His love. He is patient and kind. He makes us into a new, clean and sweet-smelling creation. He liberates us from ourselves and from the lie of the devil that deceived us. He fills us with joy overflowing, so contagious that it reaches out and seizes those around us.
Even though we used to stink of sin and shame, now we can laugh and play in the joy of the Lord. People are no longer a threat, they are a blessing. We are now able to spontaneously dance before Him, with grateful hearts, completely forgiven, new, fresh and free. I love that.