The Snake’s Gift
How beautiful upon the mountain are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings. Isaiah 52:7a (KJV)
When my family and I moved to a remote town in the mountains of North Carolina, we quickly learned that what we considered a housewarming gift might take on a different light in this small community.
Our first clue was that upon our arrival at the parsonage, we found whirligigs, a pink flamingo and a large tractor tire painted white with flowers planted in the middle of our front yard.
Our first church dinner consisted of the usual cakes, pies and casseroles, but also included bear meat, venison stew and rabbit salad.
We had an annual bar-b-que which included pork, chicken, possum and squirrel on the grill. I learned very quickly to ask before I consumed anything!!
But perhaps my favorite memory was the day that my neighbor (please understand that my closest neighbor lived one mile away) knocked on the door and told me he and his wife wanted to welcome us to the church. I invited the sweet couple in, but they didn't have time to come in; so I went out to the yard where we stood for 30 minutes!
After the usual questions one might find among the parishioners: "Whose your Daddy?"; "How many youngins' you got?"; "Do you youngins’ have a coon dog?”, Stan proceeded to give me the gift he had for me.
While his wife stood at his side, Stan began to unbutton the last three buttons on his shirt. Wrapped around his waist was a five-foot black snake which he proceeded to unwrap from his waist to hand to me!
Now let me just say that I absolutely believe that there is enmity between a woman and a snake and I was backing up to the front door as soon as I realized what it was! His wife Crystal could certainly see my dismay and she took the snake for me and put it down in my yard.
I think I squeaked out a pitiful, "Thank you" without any real sincerity. Crystal explained. "Black snakes are good for your yard," she began. "It will keep the mice and rats away and eat any other varmint that might get in your garden."
This is the first time I realized a garden was expected to be planted!
As I watched the snake slither away to parts unknown, at the same time wondering how it would know to stay in my yard, I thanked them again, excused myself and found myself in my “prayer chair” in the living room. I thought about what had just happened.
How could I possibly write a thank you note for a snake?
But after some prayer and reflection, I thought about how much trouble Crystal and Stan must have gone through to bring me their gift. Just because it wasn't a gift I'd ever thought of giving did not mean it was not appropriate.
I could remember how many things God had allowed to come into my life that at the time I did not consider a good thing; yet, as time passed I could see it was for my good.
So I did write that thank you note for the snake and for their thoughtfulness of providing a way of keeping rodents out of my house! And the snake actually brought about an unexpected gift. Crystal and I developed a close friendship over the years as she helped me plant a garden and taught me to can vegetables.
As a result of that day, I am often reminded when those "gifts" that God occasionally sends my way do not feel like gifts, I ask to see them from God's perspective and know that everything that God allows to touch my life is for my ultimate good. Even a black snake!!
To recognize God as Lord is to acknowledge that He is sovereign and supreme in the universe. We cannot understand His ways, but since He is God and God has proven Himself faithful, we can be trusting children, no matter what He sends our way.
Dear Lord, please help me to trust You in all things. I already know that You are faithful. I want to be found faithful. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
© 2017 by Dawn Neely. All rights reserved.
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