Sunday, August 25, 2013
God's Answer To Setting People Free
In 1997, Guidepost magazine told the story of a woman from Chappaqua, NY, named Elizabeth Sherold. Elizabeth was working at her computer one afternoon when all of a sudden she saw a skunk stumble across her front yard wearing a yellow helmet, at least it looked like a helmet! It actually turned out to be a yellow plastic yogurt container which was stuck on the skunk’s head. The skunk ran around frantically trying to get it loose, but the container wouldn’t come off. So the skunk continued blindly running this way and that, unable to see. Elizabeth called the Department of Wildlife and asked what she should do, and was politely told that she needed to pull the yogurt container off the skunk’s head! “What if it sprays me?” she countered. “Well, if a skunk can’t see you, he won’t spray you”, said the official. “Yeah, but what happens”, Elizabeth asked, “when I pull the container off?” “Make sure he doesn’t feel threatened!”, came the answer.
She thanked the official somewhat unconvinced, hung up and went outside. The skunk was nowhere to be found. As she was about to turn and go back inside, all of a sudden a black and white streak suddenly emerged from the bushes and ran straight toward her. Throwing caution to the wind, she stooped down, quickly grabbed hold of the container, and pulled it off the skunk’s head. Suddenly Elizabeth found herself staring into two alert black eyes a mere two feet away. But it was free, no longer limited, released! She held the skunk’s gaze for a full 10 seconds before it turned, ran a few yards, then continued on, disappearing down a culvert.
Here’s what Elizabeth Sherold wrote later about that encounter: “A timeless parable played itself out, I thought. For this skunk was all those needs that I hesitate to get involved in. You know, involvement takes time. And I have deadlines to meet. I probably can’t do anything anyway. And somebody else with more expertise can probably handle it better. And besides, involvement can be ugly, and the stench may rub off on me. And all of those things, of course, may be true, but I’ve got a yellow pencil holder on my desk—a rather scratched and battered one—to remind me that every now and then God’s answer to a need is me.”
Without pressing the comparison of a skunk to anyone in your life or mine (!), “every now and then God’s answer to a need”, to helping someone else get, at least metaphorically, “straightened up”, loosened from their burden, made free again, is you and me!