After about a week the well man came out and fixed the pump, and the gas man filled the tank. Still it wasn’t warm. Room-sized gas space heaters in the bathroom, kitchen, and living room did little to mollify the effects of fifteen foot ceilings and cracks between the planks in the floor through which we could see the ground three feet beneath. It was the coldest winter I remember in this area—but maybe it was just that house.
When early spring rolled around I remember standing on the back stone steps in the sun—probably for the warmth. Keith was on his haunches petting the dog, a black and brown mixed breed we had picked up at the pound a year earlier and named Ezekiel. The boys were standing next to him listening, probably to some daddy advice. They were 4 and 2, oblivious to our living conditions, and perfectly happy.
Suddenly the breeze picked up and over the house something floated down out of the sky and landed across Keith’s shoulders, hanging down on each side of his chest. It was a snakeskin. When we figured out what it was, he couldn’t get it off fast enough. It must have been four feet long, with perfect scale imprints all along its length. It creeped me out, as the kids say these days. I still shudder when I think of it. Maybe that’s why I still remember that house so well.
I remembered that house and that event again recently when we passed a fifty gallon drum by the woodpile and there lying across it was another perfect snakeskin, three feet long, hanging over each side of the barrel. They still give me the creeps when I see them, or the heebie jeebs, or whatever you choose to call that horrible feeling that runs down your spine, makes you shiver to your shoes and your hair stand on end. Maybe it’s because I know that somewhere nearby there is a real snake. I can’t pretend there aren’t any out there simply because I haven’t seen one lately.
I’m sure you could make a list of things that give you that feeling. What worries me is that nowhere on anyone’s list is the three letter word “sin.” It ought to give us the creeps to be around it, to see its effects on the world, people fulfilling their every lust, their hearts full of hate and envy and covetousness, lying as easily as they breathe. It ought to make us shiver to hear the Lord’s name taken in vain from nearly every mouth, even children, or the coarse, crude, vulgar language that passes for conversation—and entertainment!-- these days. Why? Because you can be positive the Devil is somewhere nearby. He’s just waiting to drop out of nowhere and drape his arm around your shoulder. Before you know it, you will be dressing like everyone else, talking like everyone else, and acting like everyone else. In short, you will be like everyone else, walking around swathed in snakeskin, hugging it to yourself instead of ripping it off in disgust.
Don’t think it can’t happen to you, especially if sin doesn’t give you the creeps to begin with.
The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate... Seek good, and not evil, that you may live; and so the LORD, the God of hosts, will be with you, as you have said. Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph…Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good, Prov 8:13; Amos 5:14,15; Rom 12:9.