One morning I was walking the mown path around our property, as I do every day, six laps for 3 ½ miles. Suddenly the weeds to the left of me buzzed. If you have ever heard a rattlesnake in person, you know it does not sound exactly like the ones on TV. It sounds like an angry June bug, a really big, really angry June bug. I leapt sideways about 10 feet—in fact, if sideways leaping were an Olympic event, I would have won the gold medal that day.
We never found that one, but not ten days later, the dog alerted us to one in the yard, which Keith shot. Four days later, she found a cottonmouth which escaped her by flattening itself enough to get under the house. Keith had to crawl under there with a flashlight and a pistol for that one. A week later another rattler in the yard met him as he returned from the neighbor’s. Four days later a black racer crossed my running path about thirty feet ahead. Two days after that a coachwhip met me at the fence behind the old pigpen when I walked. This was beginning to get eerie. We had never had this many snakes in this short a time, not even the first summer we set up house in this old watermelon field in the piney woods, half a mile off the highway.
Five days later I was folding clothes in the family room and happened to look out the window right next to me. Not five feet from my face, a racer was winding itself up around the TV tower. No, racers are not poisonous. Yes, it was outside and I was inside with not one, but two, glass panes between me and it. But something about that one sent chills up my spine. It was almost more than I could do to go outside that day at all. Somehow I expected to see dozens of snakes slithering up the porch steps and clinging to the screen just waiting to strike when I opened the back door.
But when it was time to walk, I took a deep breath, got the .22 rifle loaded with number 12 shot, leaned it against the tree and set off, with my trusty canine bodyguards bounding up ahead of me to sniff out the critters and, more important, scare away the snakes. Still, I was a lot more alert than usual.
This was a good spiritual reminder as well. We live in a stable society. No natives on the warpath. No marauders on the borders. No wars fought on our home ground. Have we forgotten to be careful? There is still an enemy out there who is REAL, and he will kill our souls if we are not alert. Are we to be so afraid that we shut ourselves away from the world? No, for how could our lights shine and our faith be told? But being cautious never hurt anyone.
When you go out there today, pay attention, stay safe, and when you see the lion, who at least once has masqueraded as a serpent, either shoot him down right there or run!
Be sober, be watchful, your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about seeking whom he may devour; withstand him, steadfast in your faith, knowing that the same sufferings are accomplished in your brothers who are in the world. And the God of all grace, who called you unto His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, shall Himself perfect, establish and strengthen you. 1 Pet 5:7-10