Recently, our children’s ministry team planned an outdoor pumpkin picking/decorating event outside. The day, weather, families, and children were all beautiful and inviting! Yet, a disturbance emerged on the fringes of the gathering and soon hysteria ensued as a snake loitered about three yards from our toddlers. Men went to look for shovels, parents grabbed up children—whose was whose was no matter of importance—and brave kids stood at a distance gawking and bragging on what they would do if only mom allowed them.
It was our snake in the grass.—a way to discourage us from completing our task and an attempt to rob us of safety and fun. As I even hear the term ‘a snake in the grass’ now, do you know what goes through my head? Not the Roman Poet Virgil, who is thought to have first used the term around two generations before Jesus. I can still hear the lyrics from another poet—Charlie Daniels—in his song “Uneasy Rider.” In the song, he’s deflecting attention off himself and trying to get a roughhousing gang looking for a fight to focus on some ‘snake in the grass’—some fella with green teeth. As a child, my father listened to that song, along with all the others, whenever we had long road trips. I knew, above all, that green teeth drew unnecessary attention--and it may cause some unintended mishaps along the way.
But, back to our snake in the grass: it was interesting to see what happened after the initial terror of realizing there was a snake behind our children. Once we took a breath and analyzed the situation, we saw that the snake was harmless—it was a common garter snake. Knowing it wasn’t going to do us any harm, we decided to “encourage” him to leave by nudging him into the brush. The kids loved chasing and running watching the snake slither away into the weeds. Their fear switched off and excitement rushed in. Instead of being terrified, they enjoyed watching it slither away.
Fear often paralyzes us, doesn’t it? When we face something that terrifies us or are too challenged, it’s easy to clam up and not move. I love the statement of Jesus that he gives to the seventy missionary disciples he’s sending out into the region. In Luke 10:19, Jesus says, “I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you.” So many times, the evil powers of this world, and the Devil himself, tries to prevent us from really serving and really making a difference. There are snakes in our paths, dangers, fear-laden things that are present to deter us, cause us to abandon our calling, or make us want to give up. In these cases, let us take our breath, look around and evaluate what we’re seeing. If there’s a snake in our paths trying to get us to stop doing what God is calling us to do, then let us remember what Christ says.
We have the power to trample on the heads of snakes—over all the power of the enemy. Don’t let fears stand in your way. You are covered and sheltered by the mantle of Christ. You have the power over the enemy. Step in courage and in faith trusting the message and the calling of Christ in your life. Sure, look at where you step, but don't let fear of stepping cause you to stand still and not move.
So, what snakes are in your path that you need to get rid of so you can continue to serve? Ask God to give you the strength in shooing them away so you can get back at what you’re called to do.