I looked out one afternoon across the birdfeeder built right up against the house to the azalea bushes just beyond it. One limb looked a little odd. I must have stared at it for ten minutes before Keith noticed, and looked too. “There’s a garter snake in the bushes,” he said. I had thought so, but could not see it clearly enough to be sure. Finally after three years, a snake had figured out that someone had put an all-you-can-eat bird buffet out for him, and he was sitting there just waiting for his meal to light.
We did not want to hurt the snake. A near relative of his had lived under the house for a few years and kept our rodent population down to something we could handle. We hoped he would do the same, but that did not mean he could go after my birds.
So Keith put on some gloves and knocked him out of the bush. Magdi was on him before we could stop her, but Keith yelled and took the snake away from her, flinging it over the north fence. We were not certain it would have survived her vicious shake—she treats them like a bull whip and usually breaks their backs with only a couple of cracks. Not to worry. Two days later I looked out and there was the snake again.
This time Keith went out with an old rake handle and knocked him off the limb. Magdi knew what was up this time, but despite her increased vigilance, the snake slithered away under the steps and we could not get it to come out.
Until two days after that. I was getting ready to leave that morning and looked out to check the feeder and there he was again. Not being as fearless as Keith, I stood way back and whacked that bush so hard I broke the branches, but once again the snake got away from Magdi.
The fourth time he did not wait two days. He was back in one, and I was home alone again. I grabbed the pole and set off for the bird feeder. I stood there for several minutes thinking he had left because I could not find him through the limbs. Suddenly I thought to step back and look up, and there he was about a foot higher in the bush than he had ever been before. But that meant that when I knocked him out he had farther to fall and must have been a little more addled because Magdi got him before he could crawl away. This time she shook until that snake was a lifeless rubber hose. I could almost hear his spine cracking as she slung it about.
I am sorry about that. I will be sorrier this winter if I have a mouse or two in the house. But really—how long does it take some snakes to learn?
Are we any smarter? How long does it take for us to learn? I have seen Christians put themselves in spiritual danger over and over and over all my life. “I can handle it,” they say, despite the Biblical warnings to flee, to abstain, to be watchful; despite the things God lists in black and white as the biggest dangers to our soul—wealth, power, sexual sins, anger, pride, and the tongue. We all think we are different; that we won’t be tripped up and fall.
I have seen it happen too many times to ever think it could be different for me. If we choose to defy the odds, sooner or later we will be knocked “out of our tree,” and Satan will jump on us and shake us until our spiritual back is broken and we can no longer stand against him.
Stupid is as stupid does.
Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall, 1 Cor 10:11,12..