The snake, the sparrow, and the sword

john 16-33

Life supposedly imitates art (according to the philosophers).  I find that more often in my daily life I am reminded either of fallen creation (however miraculous), or think quite a bit on the spiritual world in which believers have to battle.

Currently in Arizona we have some extreme heat warnings — with highs yesterday reported as much as 120 or so.  Flights were canceled due to the heat of the asphalt.  It may or may not fry an egg, but it will burst a tire.   I have to say it felt even hotter to me when I got in my car yesterday afternoon to come back home.  My left arm is still sporting a bit of a sunburn from the drive.

Taking a brief step back — two days before, my son had cleaned off the back little master patio for me.  He put away a standing propane heater into the garage, swept off leaves and dust, and hosed it to make it neat and clean (while earning a few extra dollars).

The next afternoon, he heard little baby birds weakly chirping in the heater in my hot garage — we got it back to my patio stat!   All of us felt terrible, and we were very concerned they were not going to make it, that the parents were gone, and that they likely had suffered severe dehydration (and it was going to be all my fault for forgetting it was possible they were up there).

I watched behind the blinds as my concerned, yet rough and tough (wouldn’t want to embarrass him here 🙂 ) husband got up on a stepladder to give the parched babies little droplets of water from a straw.   How methodically and rhythmetically he dipped again into the cup of water, tenderly caring for each little gaping mouth.  I smiled at his parental instincts towards these little ugly duckling chirpers that likely would not make it.   Satisfied they were good for the moment, he stepped down from the ladder.  He instructed the boys on how/when to do this, and they did several times until they seemed to perk up.  Finally to our relief mom and dad returned and seemed to settle back in with them, feeding and protecting them.

I was reminded how the Lord uses even us to accomplish things He cares about (even the sparrow, God has not forgotten them).  He cares, He hasn’t forgotten you either.

Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?  But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.  Luke 12:6-7

When I arrived home yesterday, I saw a little baby bird hanging over the edge of the metal heater, neck hanging to the side as if he was going to fall off, seemingly gasping for air.  I put the straw in with some droplets of water but he/she fell back.  I didn’t know what to do about the location of the nest, and the extreme heat of that metal lid that they were under.  I raced around for solutions — all of the sudden I got an idea and sent the boys for the clip-on mist system I had recently purchased (for the tomatoes during this heat wave).  We draped it across a trellis and some bushes, turned it on and cooled off the area for the hottest part of the day.

Today started off hot again, so we repeated the effort.  About an hour ago (This was yesterday around 1 pm) one of the birds was chirping madly.  I kid you not, I looked out at the window and the bird saw me and held his ground and looked right up at me screeching.  It was if he was yelling at me to come help, something was wrong.  I stepped outside and then YIKES!  I saw one of the little baby birds on the ground with its mother fluttering around it presumably for protection and guidance on how to fly.  And then I glance to the right of the father bird and saw it.  The enemy!  A SNAKE!   I yelled for my oldest (the only one home) to bring a rake, a shovel – anything… (Please don’t lecture me in the comments on how it was harmless, or it was here first, yada yada).   At that time, I only knew it wanted the baby birds and probably its parents too (and maybe even me), and well, it had to go one way or another and as a woman I was comfortable with it’s imminent demise of course.

It was about six feet long covered in pinkish red scales.  My son wielded the shovel as you would a broom, and I used the light-bulb changer (longer pole).  It finally unwillingly slithered off the patio, but then instantly climbed up the first bush.  Oh no!  It turned right around and came back and we frantically chased it off again and it turned and bit at our poles.   I already have an enmity for snakes, and even with it’s different color, and this one was not winning friends and influencing people with its rapidly escalating aggressive nature.  This enmity for snakes is a natural one seen in the cursing of the serpent, and the prophecy of the Messiah to come.

And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Gen 3:14-15

So that explains this woman’s natural hatred for snakes.   I am not ‘as’ afraid as most others, but this is not my first snake here.   I had a baby rattler on this same patio (unbeknownst to me or my husband) a few months back.  We were outside enjoying the stars on our rockers, and the next day when I went to move the chairs and clean, there underneath my rocker was a dead (rocked on) rattlesnake.  (Momentarily I guess I was snake treading extreme Pentecostal lol – come on now, that was funny).   The rattler lay there flattened by the tread of my bentwood rocker… All teasing aside, it was a good thing, I understand they are quite poisonous, so thankful to the Lord for His protection.

Back to the current snake (red coachwhip, aka red racer).   My son chased it all the way to the front yard.  By the time my son made it back, so did the snake (at the same time he was explaining the snake was safely gone).   It was not to be kept away from its intended meal evidently.   We chased it off again, beating the bushes and the gravel fiercely behind it.  It would turn on us, seem to disappear, and yet again it would return to my patio.  I was beyond irritated then, (evidently it was too) and I was still not knowing if it was poisonous.   Hot and tired, jumpy and a little breathless, a little scared (truthfully waiting for it to spring at us) left me edgy (that too has happened to me with another snake years ago).   And still it was oddly more important to me to be protective of the little birds left in the nest as well as the other one (wherever it had gone to now).   I was in it with the dad (who looked like he had a red toupee on) and the not so handsome mother bird.  Neither were going to give up on this baby bird and there was still the one in the nest.   Over and over we chased this fast snake off as it got snappier and more aggressive when it turned on us, seeming determined to get right back on my patio poised to go up the heater to eat the baby birds.

I finally told my son, “kill it”.  Mr. Catch and Release didn’t want to and convinced me to let him trap it (and set it free in the desert) – yep, right…  He disappeared for a moment (while I held the snake at bay) and came back with a hand-made snake loop.  I had to chuckle as he got red-faced trying to catch this wily snake.  In fact he was probably redder than the snake.  I went inside to the air conditioning.  But it didn’t take too long of seeing him run back to the patio multiple times in defeat, that he finally gave in.  He knew he had to do it as I guess it took one run too many at him and it was him or the snake.    He would do o.k. in one of those horror films.  (You know the ones where the prey finally gets to bludgeon the unkillable killer, but just don’t hit him enough times? He appears dead, they turn their back on him in relief, the suspense music comes on, and the murderer slowly rises up again).  Well, not in my son’s case, he made very sure it was put out of its misery (although I’m not sure that he was motivated by benevolence vs. fear).  But this particular snake wasn’t going to come back at any of us again although I am sure this isn’t the last of the snakes.  In finality he cut off the head to be sure he would not be bitten out of nerves (the snake was still lashing his tail around).

I reflected on the way of the enemy.   He no longer has any victory over me (or any believer) as far as death.  He has been defeated at the cross by Christ — Satan and his cohorts were made a show of openly, Jesus triumphed over them, having victory over death and the grave (Col 2:13; 1 Cor 15:54-58).  By the way, it was His cross   that our sins were blotted out, not ours for you who are busy bearing your cross in order to receive the free gift of eternal life (it will not happen).  Please be sure you know Him and that what  you are doing now is because you are in Christ.

But today felt like almost every day in the life of social media — so many snakes out there (2 John 7; 2 Cor. 11:3-15).  Some busy questioning whether God really said something (Gen 3:1) in light of plain Scripture, others hissing their false doctrines of demons, and accusing others of not being saved (Gal 1:6-9; Rev 12:10).  Some sneak in slithering in among believers — all persistent to devour whoever they can.   Just like Satan these mini-accusers of the brethren are puffed up and self centered, pointing to their wonderful works, or things they never do, (or always do).  Snakes deceive and mislead both believers and non-believers alike (2 Cor 11:3-4; 2 Cor 4:3-4).   It may sound dramatic to some of you, but it’s an all too real scenario.

We can’t just ignore them, we can’t tolerate them for the sake of others.  Some of you might not even see them when they blend in to the surroundings.    People are suggesting we should ‘just get along’ with the snake or the wolf in sheep’s clothing.  Sorry, we can’t have unity with a snake.  I do not suggest we are quick to call someone a snake, we judge by one thing — doctrine.   If we judged by behavior as to whether someone was or wasn’t a wolf, we’d be like the FB accusers.  Behavior might make you wonder, but some at Corinth did despicable things and were believers.  Some were brought home early for getting drunk off the Lord’s table.  These people had no conscience (they did not mourn). James spoke of those who showed preference to people who were wealthy but when their own brother in Christ was hungry, naked, cold — they did nothing about it.  In Galatia, they had gone back to living under the law, they were bewitched, they were hypocrites, they weren’t straightforward about the truth of the gospel (means their own gospel was ineffective at that time).  They were not obeying the truth, they were biting, devouring, bitter, envying, and walking in the flesh.  So we cannot know a believer by his ‘fruit’ (behavior as people call fruit) but we can know a deceiver by his doctrine.  Take heed to the doctrine so you can save both yourself and anyone who hears you.

Don’t get discouraged even if you run into a lot of them, what we do matters even if it may seem unending or we may not see the final result.   Protect the baby believer still in the nest, protect the fledgling barely learning to fly, and stand alongside others who are protecting the weaker ones and defending the gospel.  We will not get rid of all the snakes, they will continue to attack, sometimes quite ferociously when they think they are close to the kill.  Just deal with the ones that are brought across your path.  The enemy’s time is short, and he is already defeated.   But be wise, his minions are out there masquerading as ministers of righteousness.   Save whatever little birds you can (in wisdom) 🙂

Cut off their opportunity.  Mark them, avoid them (Rom 16:17).  Use the two-edged sword of the Spirit, His Word, which is truth.

But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast.  For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ.  And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.  Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.  2 Cor 11:12-15

ARE YOU ABSOLUTELY SURE OF WHERE YOU WILL GO WHEN YOU DIE?