I Hit a Skunk

It was early one morning before sunrise. I was on the way to a meeting over a hundred miles away. It was dark. It was raining. There was heavy fog and I was on one of Mississippi’s country roads when I saw something ahead. A second later that something went thump under my car and I realized I had hit a skunk. Now let me clarify to you that I also recognized in the snap of a finger the skunk had been hit previously by motorists. About one second after I hit it I realized what it was, not only because of its black and white uniqueness but also because I smelled the skunk. As I drove on in the rain and darkness, about a mile or two later I realized that though the skunk was dead when I hit it, part of the poor fella was going with me. In fact, the scent of the skunk got stronger as I drove along.

Of course, we have a large skunk population in Mississippi and I suppose across the South. It’s not unusual to smell one of them in the area without ever seeing him. They say releasing a potent odor is one of a skunk’s defense mechanisms. I can understand why. Smells are interesting things. They come in all forms and fashions. Some are good, some are bad, and some just blah. They communicate a distinctiveness about whatever it is — good, bad, or otherwise — that you happen to be around.

I began to think about the smells that are found throughout the Bible. From time to time, the Bible calls attention to the significance of an aroma. It may not be a skunk, but it’s something else that can be just as distasteful. In Philippians 4:18, Paul describes our service to God as it touches others. He says it is a sweet-smelling sacrifice, well pleasing to God. How interesting that doing what the Lord leads us to do blesses people and leaves a lasting fragrance as we and others travel down the road of life.

On the other hand, we know smells may not be good. The Bible also calls attention to that. In Isaiah 3:24, the prophet says, “And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink…” He is calling attention to the fact that if we walk away from God, get out of His plan and purpose, we will find out that it is not good. While you may not notice it, others may. How interesting, and how interesting that all of us should pay attention to it.

I’m not sure about the scientific connection between our attitudes and smell, but have you ever noticed that a person who has a bad attitude certainly extends a unique odor in life and vice versa if they have a good attitude? Even like the skunk, long after we are gone the smell may linger for good or not so good.

A woman was at her parent’s home place, out in the garage looking for a tool to help her with a task she had at her own home. She was scrambling around on an upper shelf trying to find what she was looking for and a pair of gloves fell down. She picked them up and readily noticed they were her dad’s work gloves. He had been gone for over ten years, but she held those gloves in her hand and suddenly there was a faint whiff of an odor. It was Aqua Velva, her dad’s favorite aftershave lotion. While he had been working, his hands had imparted some of the scent on the gloves. Now, a decade later, the simple whiff of an aftershave lotion brought a flood of a thousand memories to her mind. Good memories. Sweet remembrances. Precious times, simply from a gentle smell.

I’ve hit skunks before, even live skunks, but this latest one made me stop and think about all of the positive, good, aromatic smells of life that people have left behind for me to enjoy as I travel the roads of life. Three takeaways I would give you quickly:

One — Avoid skunks. If you see one crossing the road, do your best not to hit it. If you see one in the road that’s already been hit, don’t hit it yourself. In life, just avoid skunks whether they are four-legged or two-legged.

Two — If you hit a skunk and get it on your car, or even worse on yourself, wash. The good thing for me is that throughout the entire day after I had gotten the skunk smell on my tires and car, I drove through downpours of rain. The water splashing on the car over and over diluted the odor and it was gone within a day or so. Maybe for us we could be washed in the Word of God — cleansed, renewed, and refreshed so we can move on without all the noxious sins that are so corrosive in our lives.

Three — Do everything in your power not to be the dispenser of the foul smells of life, whether it’s in word or deed or attitude. Let Jesus help make you an Aqua Velva. I don’t even know if they sell it any longer and though I haven’t smelled it in decades, I remember. I also remember people who it just seems like God put them here to bless everyone with whom they came in contact, and the sweet-smelling savor of their lives continues day after day. 

The author can be contacted at directions@mbcb.org.

Jim Futral

Executive Director-Treasurer