Snakes are even creepier than I thought…
A few years ago on an otherwise mild May evening, my father made the fateful decision to go to bed early. The air conditioning hadn’t been installed for the summer yet, so he opted to leave the window open a crack. Just one measly inch.
Shortly after falling into a fitful sleep, he was awakened by a noise and shifted in bed. He straightened his right arm, which had been lying across him, and to his surprise, flung something heavy off of his chest and onto the floor.
The mysterious object landed with a startlingly loud, THUD!
He shot up to investigate and stared part horrified, part fascinated, at the invader sprawled out along the hardwood.
This can’t be real, he thought. My wife is playing some sort of trick on me.
As he continued to stare, however, he realized the 4-foot black snake staring back up at him and flicking its nasty, little, forked tongue was very real.
In a split second decision, he crawled quickly off the end of the bed and shut the bedroom door to prevent it from escaping.
Meanwhile, my mother, who had been snuggled up on the couch reading a book, heard the commotion and came to investigate.
“Tim!?” she cried from the bottom of the stairs, “Is everything ok?”
“Yeah, yeah it will be,” he swallowed, not wanting to sound too alarmed. “…Just don’t come upstairs!” he added in as sweet of a voice as he could muster.
“What’s going on!?!?” My mother grew more insistent.
What do I do? What do I do? My father, generally a very brave and manly person, stood paralyzed by the door, afraid to take his eyes off the vile varmint for a moment in case it would try to disappear into a dark corner. What kind of snake crawls up on a person’s chest while they’re sleeping?!
He quickly surveyed his options for retaliation. They were admittedly limited and included several pairs of high heels and a fluffy bathrobe collection.
“We have a snake situation,” he answered reluctantly.
My mother, possibly the kindest, most graceful, woman in the world, replied in the only manner fitting to such a predicament, “A SNAKE SITUATION!?”
“Don’t worry!” he cried reassuringly. Sweet relief began to wash over him as the unwelcome creature began winding its way up the bedside table and out through the cracked window. “It’s leaving!”
“LEAVING!? What do you mean it’s leaving!? Kill it so it doesn’t come back!!!”
“Kill it!?” he quickly scanned the room again for a weapon, any sort of weapon that could end the unwelcome beast’s life. “How am I supposed to kill it!? With a shoe!?”
By this time, my sister had become aware of the epic battle taking place upstairs and joined in the shouting.
“You’re the man of the house!” she cried, “Kill it!”
In a moment of sheer brilliance and manly heroism brought on by their cheers, he crossed the room in two great strides, grabbed the window frame, and brought it down with a triumphant THWACK on the beast’s back. (I think there should be some sort of ninja move named after this valiant effort. Perhaps the “snake-otine” or the “exterminator.”)
The thrill of using the window as a weapon was short lived as the snake began to thrash around violently, whipping the curtains, and letting off a horrendous stench. My father gagged and pressed down tightly on the frame, cringing at the sensation of being bullwhipped by a snake tail, until he was certain the villain could not escape.
To seal the deal, my father grabbed a shovel and ventured out onto the roof. (If the neighbors noticed their pastor crawling out onto his roof in his nightclothes and work boots, they never said anything.) He said the snake put up a snapping, hissing fight to its very headless and very smelly end.
The stench was so bad that my parents had to sleep in a different room, but in the end, a great victory had been won, and a story for the ages had been born.
After relaying this bizarre encounter to friends and family, they discovered that it was not uncommon for snakes to seek sources of warmth at night,…even when that source is human. The unlucky beast had simply chosen the wrong man to make his personal heating pad.
The following weekend was Mother’s Day, and as a part of her gift, my dad bought my mom an extendable shovel and labeled it in bright red lettering, “Snake a-nator, Extends 2 Feet to Get the Really Big Ones.”
As I contemplate this simultaneously horrifying and incredibly entertaining saga in my family’s history, I can’t help but notice the remarkable parallels between the snake’s passage into my parent’s room, and sin’s entrance into our lives.
That’s just what sin does to us isn’t it? It creeps up on us when we’re least expecting it. We get comfortable in our sanctification, let down our guard for just a moment and it comes creeping in through the smallest crack, the littlest seam in our defenses. Before we know it we’re cozying up with a terrible habit or thought pattern, wondering how such a monstrous creature has worked its way into the sanctuary of our soul.
We have multiple options for responding to this unnerving situation:
A) We can give in to fear and personal weakness, and simply allow the snake to take up residence in our inner lives.
B) We can stand and stare paralyzed, praying that if we simply stare at it long enough, it will go away or disappear. (Note: This tactic does not work well with any circumstance in life. Our slithering enemy does not tend to self-destruct. Even if the temptation passes, it can return with greater force if we do not take appropriate destructive action.)
C) We can KILL IT. Through Christ’s victory on the cross, we have been given “everything we need for life and Godliness.” (1) It might take a bit of Scripture searching and some serious crying out to God, but we can rest assured that, “The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation.” (2)
Every weapon we need to find victory in this life has already been given to us.
We just need to learn how to pick up our crosses and use them.
The next time you find yourself in a stare down with some unexpected, hideous sin, choose courage. Act like the “man or woman of God’s house” that you are, gather up your guts, and CHARGE. Slam down your “window” and hang on tight, even if the enemy puts up a fight and lets off a terrible stink. Then grab your shovel, and END THAT SNAKE.
It is both your destiny and birthright in Christ, to “crush” the head of the enemy. (3)
Jesus is the Only “Snake-A-Nator” we will ever need.
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