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!

New Year Resolutions from God the Father

For all those who love his Son Jesus Christ, God the Father Promises for another year:

1. I will never leave you nor forsake you (Deut. 31:6). You will need to believe this promise when you have sinned and are tempted to stay home on Sunday morning, thinking that you are too bad to go to church. Nonsense! He loved you when you were already unworthy and he is not about to abandon you when you have abandoned him.

2. I will not share my glory with you (Isa. 42:8). God is not stingy when he promises this to you – he is protecting you from what would destroy you – you’re pride in thinking that you are god. Resolve to have no other gods before you this year.

3. I will do you good and not harm you (Jer. 29:11). You will need to bank on this promise when he does bring affliction into your life as he did to his people in the days of Jeremiah. When God makes this promise he means he does not have evil intent nor does he afflict willy-nilly with no ultimate purpose in mind.

4. I will exalt my Son in your life (1 Cor. 15:28; Eph. 1:4). Nothing is going to hinder the Father from making his character known through his Son. You and I should then joyfully say with John the Baptist: “I will decrease – Christ must increase.”

5. I will do all that I have purposed to do (Isa. 46:8-11). God is sovereign over everything and God is resolved to make his grace known in your life this year. God does not need you or me or lower tax rates or gun control or a bull market or a better health care system or your employers consent to do mighty things in your life.

6. I will be slow to anger and go overboard in steadfast love (Psalm 103:8; James 1:18). God is not like you and me – he will never, not a single time, have an emotional imbalance that causes him to say, “I’m sorry – I was too _____.” Oh how comforting this is when we are out-of-sorts so often with our emotions and fickle in our ways.

7. I will be just in all my dealings (Gen. 18:25). Like Abraham, we will take comfort in the fact that God sees the hearts of all men and will conduct himself in mercy and grace as he deals with mankind – either now or later.

8. I will never sleep but work continually (Psalm 121). This is sweet sleep for our tired minds. You can sleep and nap while God stays awake and stands guard over your life. He will not fall asleep on the job and wake up with you falling on the floor of life like what happens to us when we doze off with a glass of water in our hands.

9. I will accept my Son’s intercession for you (Heb. 7:25). This is our only hope as we pray continually, that the Father will hear our prayers for another year. The blood of the cross is infinite in its value to pay for as many prayers as you utter.

10. I will move your heart to trust me more (Isa. 12:2). Let us then sing for another year, “Oh for grace to trust him more”.

11. I will supply all your need to persevere in faith (Phil. 4:18-20). Since this is true, you and I will not look anywhere else for courage, strength, and hope, nor will we fret and fret and fret about all the fretful stuff that is going on around us. I think that if we could see the host of angels with swords drawn ready to carry out the purposes of God in our lives we would live less fearful lives (2 Kings 6:15-17).

12. I Promise to keep all my promises that I have made (Jer. 32:27; Num.23:19). Praise the Lord that on Dec. 31, 2013, not a single word of the Lord will be suspect at the end of this New Year.