13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:13, New Revised Standard Version)
Something really strange happened at the church yesterday. Our custodian was cleaning in the fellowship hall building. She went in to the men’s restroom and found a snake skin on the floor minus the snake. Apparently, a snake somehow made its way into the men’s room and shed its skin around the porcelain tree we call a toilet.
The snakeskin above is not the snakeskin found in the restroom. I don’t have the picture from yesterday. I didn’t think about the possibility of needing it at the time. For those of you who didn’t hear my sermon a couple of weeks ago when I talked about having an irrational fear of snakes. I was never thrilled about them.
The summer I was 15, I worked for the US Forest Service at Double Lake between Cleveland and Cold Spring. We built a cage and put some snakes in it that various guys caught. one was a buttermilk racer that was pretty aggressive. I had managed to catch it. Some time later I had the opportunity to get a picture with the snake. In trying to get the snake for the picture I got bit. My attitude of not being thrilled about snakes when to an irrational fear in real short order.
What bothered me most yesterday is, we had evidence that a snake was in a place where it wasn’t supposed to be. Somehow it got into our building and shed its skin. That didn’t bother me anywhere near as much as one little thing. We have the skin and by that skin, it seems pretty obvious it is a good sized snake. Even that didn’t bother me as much s this, WHERE WAS THE SNAKE?
This is serious. When I preached a couple of weeks ago and talked briefly about my irrational fear of snakes I said I didn’t even want to see a picture of a snake. For at least as long as Cindy and I have been married, probably longer, when a snake came on television or a movie screen, I am turning my head away or covering my eyes until she tells me its gone.
My first long-term job I had after the Navy was running the projectors at a theater in Houston. Raiders of the Lost Ark was a feature film. Every time I would go check on that screen. it was the snake scene. I was really, really happy when Snakes on a Plane came out my movie operator days were behind me.
I was scared. I admit it. I was scared after my snake bite experience, I was scared of the snakes in Raiders of the Lost Ark and I was a bit scared yesterday. There was a good chance that this snake, we don’t know what kind of snake, whether its poisonous or not, how big it is, and I still have to work in that building.
You may think I am being overly dramatic or at least melodramatic. I don’t think so. I don’t mind the idea of sharing the great outdoors with snakes as long as they keep five acres between me and them. In a building is a completely different matter. And, because snakes are not considerate of my boundaries, inside or out, if I am stomping around out in the woods, I am watching. Now I am having to stay alert even in the building. That guy might decide to curl up under my desk and one snake bite in a lifetime is plenty.
Truly that is the thing. We live in a world where physical danger is all around us. We can trip over tree roots, steps or uneven concrete. There is broken glass that can cut us. From time to time there are chemical spills and gas leaks that effect what we drink and what we breathe. I love peaches. I found out this week there is a recall on peaches for fear of salmonella. Then we compound that with the virus and so many airborne pathogens, it can be pretty frightening.
Even more frightening than that are all the spiritual pitfalls out there. Many of those pitfalls are accompanied with plenty of people who would like nothing more than to see us stumble on the spiritual mire and muck of life.
That’s all pretty scary stuff. It might even be enough to make us question whether its even worth getting out of bed in the morning. Why would we ever want to?
That’s the thing. I refuse to let my irrational fear take control of my life. To the degree I possibly can, I am going to give those snakes space. That means, however, for the snakes and any other dangers that are out there, I need to pay attention. When I fail to pay attention, when I am not alert, bad things can happen. God gave me the ability to see and notice the things around me. I need to use those things God gave me to protect myself.
But there is also one other thing. If I am alert and paying attention to what’s around me so I see danger before it’s actually danger, I just might see something out there that is a true blessing from God. If I wasn’t looking, paying attention, or failing to be alert, I might miss a blessing from God above and perhaps that is the greatest danger of all.
Seeking the Genuine,
Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved