I just looked in that direction in bewilderment, but my son and his dog got up and headed that way to investigate. They both entered the room, but soon the beagle was ejected and the door closed again, only adding to my confusion. A few minutes later my husband, Jim, emerged and headed rapidly for the front door, holding a lump of cloth in his hands extended out before him. Minutes passed before he once again came into the house, calmer now, and began his explanation.
He had gone into the bedroom to get my laptop from the desk and was startled to see a snake curled up in the middle of the floor! Jim hates snakes, but he wasn’t about to let this one get away. Looking around for something to grab it with, he spied a cloth book bag in the closet nearby. He stuck his hand inside and bravely made a move for the intruder…except that the snake didn’t want to be caught; hence the banging and crashing and thumping we heard as the chase continued around the room. My husband emerged from the battle victorious, but there was more to his excitement than just an evicted trespasser.
Weeks earlier he had begun looking for a particular computer disk that he needed and didn’t seem able to find in its usual spot. He searched high and low, through all the piles of papers crowded around the computer, in stacks of the same piled around the room…everywhere…with no luck. He began praying, saying, “God, you know where that disk is! Please show me!”
And so God did. After emptying the book bag he had used that morning of its reptilian content, Jim started looking at it a little more closely. There, in a zippered compartment in the back of the thing he found the very computer disk he had been searching for. We laughed together over the absurdity of it all and asked God if in the future if we could please have our answers to prayer minus the snakes!
But there was more than a computer disk in that book bag; there was also a message, as I found out the next Sunday at church. Our pastor’s son was the stand-in preacher that week for his recuperating father, and he had a sermon prepared and passion in his heart on the subject of breakthrough…only to find that he needed one that morning himself. His long-standing issues with anxiety were hitting him full force as he sat in the back of the building; in short, there was a spiritual snake in the room.
Summoned by his wife, several believers began to pray for him, their voices loud even against the worship music delivered by the musicians on the stage up front. But it was a battle that he had to fight himself, one that only he could win. And when he eventually stood up and headed to the podium at front, I knew that he had done just that; he had grabbed that snake by the tail and thrown him out where he belonged. In doing so he demonstrated the very subject he was preaching on that morning. He found victory…for that moment, on that day.
In Exodus 4 we see that Moses likewise struggled with the idea of delivering a message; his, to Pharaoh in Egypt. God asked him what he had in his hand, and then told him to throw the staff he was carrying on the ground. When he did so, it became a slithering snake that Moses ran from in fear. God then told him to reach out and grab the snake by the tail. When Moses somehow managed to do so, it became a staff again, one that God told him to take with him always to use as a sign to those who would question the authority he carried after God had appeared to him.
Note that Moses carried the staff before He initially met with God, and he kept it with him long after that first meeting. And perhaps it’s true that the burdens we carry are actually tools God can use to show His power and authority on a day to day basis when we like Moses cast them down and then go after whatever it is that afflicts us instead of running from it, overcoming it again, each time demonstrating to those around us the power and authority we carry in Christ. The apostle Paul likewise talks of a thorn in the flesh that God allowed the enemy to use to buffet him on a recurring basis, that in his own personal weakness the power of God was shown to be strong. It could be that the victory we so desire is a moment by moment, day by day kind of thing…on purpose. Perhaps when the enemy sees that what he meant for harm is persistently being used to glorify God, he will abandon that particular form of torment altogether.
My husband and I wondered how the snake got into the room in the first place. Jim tore the place apart looking for an entrance hole. And then we remembered that with all the beautiful weather we’ve been having of late, we’d opened the window, even though the screen was off. We simply let the creature crawl in ourselves. And surely life is difficult enough without giving the enemy easy access to our lives by neglecting to use the spiritual filters God has given us to guard our hearts and minds.
I shudder to think that the snake was somewhere in the room that morning when I spent a good number of hours in there myself. Even in my most unobservant moments I surely would have noticed a snake curled up in the middle of the room, yet it was hidden in there somewhere. Similarly some things we carry with us a long time before they make their presence known, usually when we are least prepared to stumble across them.
Finally, I remember how Jim walked to the front door that day, holding the snake as far from his body as he could keep it. He wanted no part of it. And whatever our personal affliction, that’s exactly how we feel about it. But it’s when we allow God to use us in even our most difficult moments that He is glorified… and we may be surprised to find the answers to questions we’ve asked at last.
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
(Romans 8:28 MKJV)
(Romans 8:28 MKJV)