Thursday, May 9 was a perfect Spring day, so I had the interior door of my office open with the top window down on the storm door to allow the gentle morning breeze to flow through the screen, into my office, and through the house to air things out.
At some point I had to go over to the church to make a copy. I walked out and closed my office door behind me—first the interior door and the storm door followed. Mission accomplished only a couple of minutes later, I returned to find the snake you see in the image above. Startled? Of course I was! Yes, it was a harmless Garter snake. But the type of snake never matters when you open a door, come around a corner, step over a rock (or whatever) and you see a snake there. It’s always startling!
In a twist of fate for the snake I had apparently gotten up from my desk, grabbed what I had to copy, walked out and closed the door. The picture shows exactly how I found it upon my return. There’s about an inch gap below the storm door and the sidewalk at the entrance to my office, so it appears the serpent thought he’d heard me say, “Come on in!” He didn’t! But he was making has slithery entry anyway. And when I’d unwittingly closed the door on its head, it killed him instantly. That’s my kind of snake…a dead one!
As surprising as it can be to discover a snake anywhere—and no one ever likes to encounter one in their home—the thing that bothered me at that moment and what has bothered me since is that I walked out the very same door, closed it behind me, and NEVER saw the snake until I’d returned. Are you following me on this? I stepped across that very threshold while opening the storm door, reached back and pulled the interior door closed, and then closed and pushed on the storm door to make sure that it latched (we have to do that since it is windy here most of the time).
HERE’S MY POINT: I am more startled that I did not see the snake. Why? Because I think of myself as very alert! I didn’t see it while sitting at my desk and it was slithering under the storm door into my office and our home. My desk faces the door! Nor did I see it when I walked right past it. I’m certainly glad its head got squashed in the door jam, because I can only imagine how “invigorating” it would have been to eventually find it somewhere inside the house. Notice that I said I am more startled by the fact that I didn’t see the snake at all! I’m saying that I’m in a continued state of being bothered by my lack of alertness. It has actually grown to bother me quite a bit that while I consider myself alert, I still TOTALLY missed a snake that was literally only inches from me feet as I walked out. What had distracted me? Nothing that I’m aware of, not even an apple.
This incident brought me around to the story of the Fall in Genesis 3:1 where the tempter was a serpent (Satan in the form of a snake). He is described there as being “more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.” What devastation and death came to Adam and Eve and the whole human race because of being distracted by the serpent who fooled them into compromising the Word of God.
One of the purposes of the Word of God is to make us “shrewd” or “prudent” (Prov. 1:4). It’s the same word used to describe the serpent as crafty. But the difference for us is between wisdom and wickedness. The Lord gave us His Word that we might trust Him and that we might be wise and alert (prudent) to the schemes of the devil. God wants us to be alert because, conversely, the serpent’s craftiness has only evil as its modus operandi. Satan’s evil craftiness comes disguised as twisted truths.
There are different qualities to the shrewdness, different sources, and different purposes. God’s purpose is so that we might know Him and His ways, and the benefit is life. The serpent’s purpose is to distort God’s ways, to lead us astray, and the detriment is death. The Apostle Paul wrote:
“But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3)
This snake situation served to remind me to be [even more] alert so that Satan cannot take advantage of my integrity. But the Savior’s situation reminds me to look up—for in Christ, we have life:
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life.” (John 3:14-15)
Final thought: The serpent who was “more crafty than any beast of the field” was outmatched by the Savior who was lifted up on Calvary. It was not mere twist of fate, but God’s plan of redemption. In other words, the serpent is a defeated foe. Look to Christ our victor, because Satan has been vanquished. And while we face temptations and battles now, there is coming a day when the door will be completely closed on the serpent’s head! Until that day, remain alert.
“And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.” (Revelation 12:9)
“And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years…” (Revelation 20:2)