Snakes on a Plain
I have had two encounters with snakes in my adult life: once before I was a follower of Jesus and once after. They are experiences that have stayed with me because of the profound lessons that I learned from them.
The first time was in the front yard of our second home. A salesman had come to the door and I was trying to get him to understand that we were not interested when I noticed the 3-4 foot black snake slithering through the yard toward the front porch. The salesman noticed he had lost my attention and followed my gaze to the snake behind him. He freaked out very quickly and went on his way. The quickest thing I could grab was a shovel, and I went after the snake. I was scared but I wanted to be brave and impress my wife. I jabbed the spade end of the shovel down on the snake but the ground was soft and I hadn’t done much damage. The snake writhed on the ground and continued toward me. I stabbed again and again until the ground gave way. The adrenaline was rushing and I was trying not to panic. I kept stabbing and stabbing and eventually got through the snake enough that his movement slowed for me to move him to the backyard. I finished severing the head and then buried the two separately.
The second encounter was in our current home. I was walking out through the attached garaged and heard a thrashing. When I looked at the back door of the garage I noticed a big black snake had managed to slither its way in but had gotten its head caught in a sticky trap which had been set up to catch bugs and mice. It had thrashed so much that it knocked a wired planter on top of itself, caging most of its body. I got my hatchet down and easily severed the head of the snake. The concrete floor of the garage was not going to give way like the soft ground of my old front yard. I then took the trap and the snake body to the edge of the property in the back and buried the two.
The entire first incident was my life played out in a matter of moments. The snake (Satan) had slithered its way to my house. My reaction was selfish: first I was afraid, then I grabbed a weak tool for the job and I tried to kill it on a weak foundation.
“Do not be afraid, for I am with you.” (Isaiah 41:10a)
“Using a dull ax requires great strength, so sharpen the blade. That’s the value of wisdom; it helps you succeed.” (Ecclesiastes 10:10)
“‘But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.’” (Matthew 7:26-27)
Before I was a follower of Jesus, my trust was in myself, so naturally I was afraid. The tools God has given his followers—the Holy Spirit and the Bible—were not tools I used. I had built nothing on the firm foundation of Christ, so the ground gave way. That first snake was hard to kill just like the sinful lifestyle I was leading before I surrendered to God. It didn’t go quietly or easily.
After I confessed, repented, and became a true follower of Christ, the snake that slithered up to my house was already caught. The defenses that had been put into place worked and the head of the snake was already trapped. I was not afraid, my tools were sharp, and my foundation was strong.
“‘And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.’” (Genesis 3:15)
“For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” (Hebrews 4:12)
“‘Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.’” (Matthew 7:24-25)
Jesus crushed the serpent’s head when He died and rose again. As God’s children, we need only fear God. Satan is neutralized; like a snake with its head cut off, the head still contains poison and is still a bit dangerous, but it is dead and defeated. Jesus will bury the severed head when He returns. When we put our faith in Him, we have no reason to fear because God is with us and He will protect us. When we study the Word of God and grow the fruits of the Spirit and do not stifle it, our tools are sharpened and we are ready to use them. When we follow Jesus, we set our foundation on Him, the Rock and Cornerstone, and we will not be shaken.
Please learn from these lessons as I did. Trust in the Lord and fear Him only. Know that He is with you always. Sharpen your tools daily, always be ready to use them, and set your foundation on the solid rock of Jesus Christ so you will not be shaken. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.