DayBreaks for 7/14/15: Avoiding Snakebite
From the DayBreaks archive, 7/14/2005:
For the record, I don’t like snakes. I don’t like to touch them. I don’t like to see them unless they are safely in a cage on the other side of solid glass that’s too strong for them to break through. Then, and only then, do I enjoy seeing them. We live in rattlesnake country and so I’m always wary when around brush, rock or wood piles. I’d just as soon leave the snakes alone.
John Ortberg told a story about a man who worked in a zoo that housed a 13-foot king cobra. The venom in his venom glands was powerful enough to kill 1000 adult males. A single bite from such a large cobra has been known to kill a full-grown African elephant. As it turns out, this particular cobra had a scar by one eye that prevented it from completely shedding its skin when it molted. That meant that every time the snake shed its skin, the zoo handlers had to grab and hold the angry snake while the vet carefully cut the skin away from the scar.
As I thought about that story, I was certain that I wouldn’t want the job of grabbing the snake. I wouldn’t have wanted to grab it even if it was a harmless garter snake, let alone a ticked-off 13-foot king cobra. But the vet, and 4 others, managed to grab hold of the snake and immobilize it long enough for the vet to cut away the dead skin. But before he finished, the vet cautioned everyone that the most dangerous part was yet to take place: the moment when they had to release the snake, to let it go. He told them that more people are bitten by snakes when letting go of them than while grabbing them or holding onto them. I think he should have told them this tidbit of news before they agreed to hold onto the nasty beast to start with. I would have been very angry at him if he’d not told me that in advance!
Still, it made me think about temptation and sin. We grab the snake of sin and we’re in trouble. We don’t know how to let it go without getting hurt. We find out that the sin was much more powerful and difficult to deal with than we thought it would be when we gave in to it the first time. But by then, we’re in trouble. We’ve got a deadly, spitting snake in our hands and it wants to bury its fangs deep into our souls.
Why is it that we don’t just let go and run away? We’re afraid. But if we are brutally honest, we don’t really want to let go of the snake of temptation too badly, do we? We’d rather keep hanging on to it so that we know where it is, and if we decide that we want to indulge our sinful appetites again, we can do so without having to go through the trouble of catching the snake all over again. We hold it close, afraid of it, but pretending all the while that it is harmless, or at least that it can’t hurt us as long as we hang on to it tightly enough (i.e., “have it under control”). We’re crazy.
Are you holding onto a deadly viper of sin in your life? Let it go…and run! Run like crazy to the Savior!
Eccl 10:11 – It does no good to charm a snake after it has bitten you.PRAYER: Lord, we delude ourselves thinking we can master our temptations and manage our sinfulness! Save us from this foolishness! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.
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