When God Shut the Mouth of a Poisonous Snake

It’s good to rehearse true stories that remind us of God’s care. Here’s one that I jotted down several summers ago. Enjoy!

Cheryl and I were swimming behind my parent’s home in Summersville Lake. It’s a 22,000 acre shoreline lake with a dam that creates depths of 300 ft. The lake is about a mile behind the house through the woods with 15 to 100 foot cliffs since this is a man-made lake that dams up Gauley River. The section that we swim in can only be reached by either cliff-diving or letting yourself down by rope that is tied to trees at the top.  We let ourselves down by rope so that I could jump off the smaller cliffs, 18 – 27 feet high. I don’t have the courage to jump higher – I probably would if someone dared me though.  Anyway, after some great swimming in a Hawaii-like lagoon with massive rocks and a 50 ft. waterfall, it is time to leave.

We head back up the cliff pulling ourselves up the rope, putting our feet in the footholds that have been hewn out by rock climbers. But there is a man at the top holding a can of beer in one hand and two fishing poles in the other. He has tied his massive cooler to the end of the rope and now the cooler is dangling at the bottom while he is stupefied as to how in the world is he going to get down – but we want to go up.

He realizes that and apologizes for blocking the path. He asks me if I can help him.  I climb partly up the cliff and take his poles and then I lower them down to Cheryl.  And then with my left arm I lift up his 35 lb cooler to get the weight off the rope and untie it with my right hand. This is such an awkward position – I almost lost my balance. I untied it and jumped down with the cooler in my right hand, swinging it out and away from me and dropped it on the ground on its bottom with a thud. As soon as I did, the man at the top said, “Did you see that?”  I said, “What?”  He said, “I think I saw a snake move as soon as you set the cooler down.” I replied, “You’re just kidding, aren’t you?” “No, really, I think I saw one,” the man safely at the top said. I peeked over the cooler and there was a male Copperhead coiled ready to strike. He was coiled and hissing, tongue moving in and out trying to smell us. I had set the cooler of beer on his tail!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (see, God does use beer to accomplish his good purposes:) The snake was pinned down and couldn’t move! Mind you, that we have moved back and forth, especially Cheryl with the fishing poles.

Just then, his younger friend came up who had already climbed down earlier (but wasn’t around to help his friend down). He beat the snake a little, moved the cooler off, penned the snake to the ground with the stick, picked it up by the neck and blew into its face. The snake opened wide ready to bite and just then the young boy broke its neck with his hand. Now that’s a hillbilly!!!

We all commented that we all could have been bitten. The man at the top, now at the bottom, said, “That’s the second lucky thing that’s happened to me today – I think I’ll play the lottery!” I said, “I thank the Lord that he didn’t allow that snake to bite us.”  Later, Cheryl and I praised God with serious reflection on his protection. A Copperhead won’t kill you (unless you have other health issues) but it will make you wish you were dead with unbearable burning sensations, vomiting,  nausea, swelling, and cramps.

Job 38-40 speaks of God’s control over the animal kingdom. God could have used this as a thorn, a bite in our flesh but he did not and we thank him for sparing us.  Taking the long view, one day our God will deal the final blow to Satan – that vile serpent who accuses the saints! His head was crushed at the Cross of Christ and one day he will feel the burning sensations of Lion’s wrath with no mitigation – ever. Praise God for He rules over Satan, and in the words of Martin Luther, his doom is sure – and your eternal Joy is sure!

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