August 23, 2023

Weekly Reflection – Confronting Snakes

Weekly Reflection – Confronting Snakes

Lessons from an Unexpected Adventure

Throughout history, humans have harbored an innate fear of snakes. These slithering creatures have often been depicted as symbols of malevolence and deception in various cultures. In the Bible, the snake has served as a symbol of the “evil one” or the “deceiver.” From the serpent in the Garden of Eden to biblical references that liken wine’s effects to snakebites, the snake has rarely been cast in a positive light. In Numbers 21, God sent venomous snakes among discontented Israelites when they grew impatient and spoke against God and Moses as a form of divine retribution. When the people cried out, God had Moses attach a bronze snake to a pole so that anyone who looked at it could be healed from the bite of these snakes.

The New Testament suggests we look at Christ on the cross as an analogy to this.  Nowhere in the Bible do I read of a “friendly” snake! It’s clear that “friendly” snakes don’t make many appearances in the Bible, and some might even say, “The only good snake is a dead snake.”

Thrilling Zip-lines

Recently, I embarked on a thrilling adventure with two of my school-age grandchildren in the woods of East Texas: zip-lining. For the uninitiated, zip-lining involves gliding along a cable from a high point to a lower one, powered by gravity. Our location featured eight zip-lines, varying in length and offering breathtaking views of meadows, pine forests, and even water crossings. It was an exhilarating experience until we encountered an unexpected guest: a snake!

One of the shorter zip-lines took us over a serene pond. The ten of us eagerly climbed a tower to access the cable, with my grandchildren excitedly volunteering to go first. I found myself as the third in line, suspended halfway down the cable, when I heard piercing screams from the platform behind me. Swinging around, I witnessed a large splash as something plunged into the water.

By the Tail

Here’s the twist: At the platform’s “jumping-off point,” there was a box for participants to stand on while the attendant secured them to the cable. However, one member of our group was tall enough not to require the box. So, the attendant moved it. And you guessed it – there was a 1.5-meter snake lurking beneath it! The remaining people on the platform were tethered to cables and couldn’t flee. All they could do was stand there, panicking and screaming, especially three young girls. In the end, their father emerged as the hero, seizing the snake by the tail and tossing it into the lake. That dramatic splash I witnessed? That was it.

This incident left me pondering three key takeaways. Firstly, those three young girls will forever remember the day they came face to face with a snake. Secondly, they will never forget their father’s courage as he “rescued” them by deftly disposing of the snake. And third, it’s a stark reminder that children are ALWAYS watching their parents and will carry these memories throughout their lives, whether it’s witnessing acts of bravery or moments of weakness. Parents should always be mindful of their behavior; after all, will they be remembered as their child’s hero?

A Deeper Dimension

But there’s a deeper layer to this story. Each of us carries our own “snakes” within, hindering our ability to live abundantly the way we were created to. That age-old serpent from Genesis 3 still lurks. Perhaps we should consider figuratively turning to Christ on the cross as our divine remedy for these inner snakes. Remember that our heavenly Father is our ultimate hero, ever ready to remove the snakes from our lives or shield us from their venom when we seek protection through His Son.

As a practical reflection, it’s worth asking: What are the snakes in your life? Are you aware of their presence, quietly lying in wait for the opportune moment to strike? How do you react – with blissful unawareness, paralyzing fear, or the painful effects of their bite? Do you turn to Jesus as your courageous hero in these moments? And can you recall the countless times when Jesus and the Spirit of God have saved you from the unexpected “snakes” that emerged from life’s most unforeseen corners?

In gratitude for the One who has saved us and continues to do so, let us look to Him this week and beyond.

Blessings and peace,

Chaplain Allen

Disclaimer statement: Please note that the opinions expressed herein are those of the Chaplain alone and are based on his personal understanding of scripture and how God works in our lives.

Read more Reflections: Chaplain’s Corner