I don't know why but I've run into a bunch of skunks lately. Maybe it's the season of the year or maybe I'm just unlucky, but it seems like I've been riding my bike past dead skunks in the road once or twice a week. Not long ago a very much alive skunk invaded our neighborhood and left his noxious calling card.

One night last week as I was waiting for the kids to arrive from Dallas, I took a stroll down Chesterville Road. It was past midnight so the traffic was very light and I thought I was alone. But when I glanced to my left, I noticed a small creature moving very slowly a few feet from the road. When I saw the distinctive white stripe, I knew that my nocturnal wanderings had attracted a skunk's attention. Very quickly I started walking back home, never pausing to look back.

You don't want to mess with a skunk if you can help it.

Years ago a friend shared an important truth with me. "A bulldog can beat a skunk, but is it worth the fight?" If  we're laying down bets, I'll put my money on the bulldog every time.  But he'll end up smelling like a skunk even if he wins.

Sometimes we fight over things that don't really matter and end up wasting lots of time and emotional energy with very little to show for it. Every great general knows that you have to pick your battles carefully. You can't fight over every hill or you'll end up winning the battle but losing the war.

When we are young, everything seems important, vital, crucial, and non-negotiable. As we get older, we learn that many things that once occupied our time don't seem to matter much in the long run. Perhaps it is a blessing that comes with the aging process. At a certain point in life, you  simply don't have the time or energy to get involved in every little squabble. So you decide what matters and what doesn't, and if you are like most people, you end up with a relatively short list of things that matter and a much longer list of things that don't.

My mind is drawn to the words of David in Psalm 37:7, "Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;  do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes." "Fret" is an old English word that speaks of an unsettled heart. The fretful believer is tossed and turned by  circumstances he cannot control. God's solution is simple:

1) Be still before the Lord. That means what it says. Don't take matters into your own hands.
2) Wait patiently for him. Give God time to work.

When you are churning on the inside about things you can't control, don't give in to the temptation to take matters in your own hands. Get alone with God and do nothing. That's right. Just do nothing. Wait on him.

Or you can be like a bulldog and jump into the fray. But even if you win the battle, you may end up smelling like a skunk.

You can reach the author at ray@keepbelieving.com. Click here to sign up for the free weekly email sermon.