LESSON: NEVER SQUEEZE A SKUNK
By DANNY MINTON
My first experience with fireworks came when I was around 10 or 11 years old. My dad had bought a stack of different types of fireworks, Roman candles, sparklers, Black Cat firecrackers and a few other things. As any kid might do, I bugged him until he let me take a package of Black Cats outside and shoot them off. So, with matches and a package of explosives in my hand, I retreat out the back door of our house on 21st street.
Keep in mind that this is the first time I’ve dealt with fireworks on my own. As many of you may know, fireworks come with the fuses twisted together. This particular package probably had around 50 miniature bombs connected and twisted together. I wasn’t exactly sure how to take them apart. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t figure out how to unravel the mess of twisted gunpowder. Being the ingenious young kid that I was, I did the next best thing. I set the Black Cats bundle on the ground and lit the first fuse. Do you know what happens when you light a bundle of firecrackers without taking them apart!
What followed became a scene from a WWII movie with firecrackers going off all over the place. The chaos brought my dad outside to make sure that I hadn’t killed myself. It was over in a flash with paper flying all over the yard leaving a few lone survivors sprayed around the yard. What was supposed to be 50 small incidents turned into one huge mess! My dad laughed, we all survived, and I learned my lesson and how to handle the situation in the future.
Our lives can be full of problems with which we struggle to deal daily. In some instances, we don’t know how to unravel them and deal with them one at a time. As a result, they at times can become so overwhelming that we get ourselves into a deeper mess than we were when we started out. We find ourselves mired in on struggle after another until we feel like giving up on it all.
I shared the following story a while back with some folks about the predicaments we can get ourselves into when we find ourselves in stress. In a book by John Haggai entitled, “How to Win Over Worry” the author tells the story of a Mrs. Monroe who resided in Maryland. Mrs. Monroe, a typical mother like any other mother you might meet, had gone to the store and left her children home watching television. When she arrived home and walked into the kitchen carrying her bags of groceries she felt an eerie silence in the house. She looked into the den and saw her five children sitting around in a circle in the middle of the floor with their attention on what was before them. Mrs. Monroe walked in and saw her children playing with five cute little skunks.
Startled, she yelled at her children, “Run, children, run!” With that, each child grabbed a skunk and ran in five different directions. As they ran, she screamed even louder scaring the children so badly that each one squeezed their skunk. The moral of the lesson is “Skunks don’t like to be squeezed!”
Maybe we find ourselves in life lighting a pack of fireworks or squeezing the skunk, getting so frustrated with what weighs us down that we act or react in a way that just makes things worse. We’ve all probably been there and, in the end, have a bigger mess to get out of than we had to start.
Jesus taught us that the first thing we need to remember is that he is here for us helping us unravel the twisted mess of explosive and smelly issues in our lives. He makes a simple statement about handing our struggles over to him in Matthew 6:33-34, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (NIV)
Paul reminds us again what happens when we let Jesus take care of our problems. He tells us in Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (NIV)
The Message translation puts it this way, “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”
We find we have a choice. We can go through life squeezing skunks and lighting packets of fireworks creating a life more chaotic than before, or we can allow Christ to carry our burden. The first is a recipe for disaster. The second is a way to relieve ourselves of pressure and allow a greater power to lift us up and carry us through.
Don’t squeeze a skunk or light the fuse that makes things a lot worse. Deal with your struggles one at a time allowing Jesus to carry the rest for you.
Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?
Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ