I have a profound dislike for snakes. No, let me rephrase that: I HATE snakes. I hate snakes more than going to the dentist. I hate snakes more than paying taxes. I hate snakes more than expensive, unexpected car repairs (don’t go there). To my narrow mind, there is only one good snake—the one that’s as far from me as possible. I don’t even like dead snakes. They don’t have the common decency to just die and get it over with, they have to curl up and wiggle and put on a show like the Wicked Witch of the West. C’mon, already—melt and get it over with!
I don’t know very many people who like snakes. Oh, there are a few that are fascinated with them, but most of us could go through our days without having a close personal relationship with a Cottonmouth, Rattlesnake, or Copperhead—or even those innocent, cute little “garden snakes” like the one I sent to snake heaven (or is that hell?) last night. Yes, I killed it in cold blood with my own bare shovel. The snake wasn’t threatening me, but he WAS trespassing, which for a snake is a capital offense with an automatic death sentence. Don’t even talk about appeal; there’s nothing at all appealing about snakes.
In some parts of our country, kids are educated on how to deal with poisonous snakes just like they’re taught not to talk to strangers. In those areas, there are a lot of people to whom a large, deadly snake isn’t a really big deal. A few years back I spent a couple of weeks working in Savannah, Georgia. While chatting with one of the locals I was working with, I asked if snakes were really that common there. He responded by taking me outside to a covered walkway that I walked several times each day. He stopped about halfway down the walkway and said, “Now, look carefully to your right, next to the concrete walk. See that pair of beady little eyes? That’s a baby rattlesnake. There’s usually at least one or two along this walk during the daytime.” I nervously replied, “How big is this baby?” He replied “Oh, four and a half or five feet.” I immediately went back inside. One thing I knew for sure is that I wasn’t hanging around waiting for an invite from the lil’ fella’s mommy! I simply could not understand why or how these folks could coexist so calmly with a bunch of poisonous snakes. This guy didn’t think it was a big deal at all, saying that they would leave us alone if we didn’t provoke them.
I’ve since talked with others in that area with a somewhat different attitude about snakes. Yes, they say, it’s true that a snake that’s curled up next to a nice, cool concrete walk on a hot afternoon is likely to ignore a passerby. However, that same snake will strike without hesitation if it feels threatened by a child, a Yankee, or some other unlearned person that doesn’t know to just ignore it and keep moving. These folks willingly pay exterminators to keep these critters away.
There are a lot of “snakes” hiding along the sidewalk of life, waiting to strike if the opportunity presents itself. Many of these “snakes” are the sort of sins that we assume simply can’t happen to us. I’ve observed that the people most likely to get bit by these “snakes” are the ones who are convinced that they aren’t vulnerable. The Apostle Paul knew that none of us, not even him, are impervious to attack:
“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:12,13 NNAS)
Believing you are immune to sin is both arrogant and dangerous. Given the right set of circumstances, any of us could be bitten by the very sins we hate the most. The way to prevent those snakes from attacking is to assume a pro-active position; rather than ignoring that snake, exterminate it before it bites you. Turn on your HSSD (Holy Spirit Snake Detector) and at the first sign of alarm, send that snake back where it belongs!