A little girl was walking down a bushy path from a ground where she had been playing ‘Public Van, Public Van’ with other children. She unexpectedly came across an old rattlesnake. The snake asked, “Please, little girl, can you take me to the top of the mountain so that I can see the sunset one last moment before I join my ancestors?” The little girl answered, “No Rattlesnake. If I pick you up you will bite me and I will join my ancestors before you do.” The rattlesnake said, “No I promise I won’t bite you.” After nattering for a time, the little girl changed mind and decided to take the snake to the mountain. The girl took it to her chest and up the mountain, they went.
They rested there and watched the sun setting to the west. It was such a beautiful scene to behold. The sun was smiling at them as it disappeared into the horizon.
After the sunset, the rattlesnake turned to the little girl and asked, “Can I go home now? I am bushed and old”. The little girl picked the rattlesnake again and held it cautiously in her arms and down the mountain they went. She then took it to her home and hid it so that her parents could not see it. She would then feed it and give it a place to sleep.
In the morning, the rattlesnake turned to the girl again and said, “Please little girl will you take me back to my home?” The little girl felt she had been safe with the Rattlesnake and could trust it. So she took it in her arms and held it close to her chest and they vanished into the woods. Then just before she laid the snake down, the venomous serpent turned and bit her severally on her chest and arms. The little girl let out a deafening holler as she threw the snake down. “Rattlesnake why did you do that? Now I will surely die.” The rattlesnake looked up at her and chortled, “You knew what I was when you picked me. Didn’t you?”
This short story is like a mine with layers of precious stones’ sediments. The deeper you dig the more precious stones you encounter.
The snake has always been painted as a nasty creature which is constantly after evil. The appearance of a snake in telling can send shivers down our spines and at worst make us abandon the read, however testier it may be. This is the reason we are now hearing of terminologies such as Ophidiophobia.
A true, interesting account is given of a Nepalese farmer Mohammed Salmodin who was bitten by a cobra in 2015 and in turn bit the reptile to death.
Salmodin is reported to have been working in the field when he was assaulted by the stealthy, slimy, slithering animal. They say once bitten twice shy, but Salmodin did not get shy, instead, he grabbed the damn reptile and bit it severally.
He was later treated at a local hospital and got well. However, the serpent wasn’t lucky. It succumbed to wounds inflicted by the farmer’s incisors.
When asked to explain his unconventional behaviour, Salmodin said that his actions were informed by titbits of wisdom he got from a snake charmer. The snake charmer told him that biting back the snake lessens the effects of the venom.
I have heard and read accounts of snakes being transformed to mouth-watering culinary. However, in such cases, the snake is killed first, unlike in the case of Salmodin. I have also heard that it tastes like fish. If that is true, then I wouldn’t mind a bit of a python. After all Cantonese have been drinking snake soup for two millennia and some members of the United States Special forces are taught to kill and eat snakes during survival training. I think I am as honest as a politician!
As I ponder over this, my mind travels into history to encounter Greek Myths. One character that comes up is Medusa, a female gorgon whose hair consisted of writhing venomous snakes. She was killed by legendary Greek hero Perseus.
Do you agree with me the snakes have been at the receiving end?
Despite all these maligning, The Bible records an event where Jesus exhorted His disciples to be as wise as a serpent (Matthew 10:16). At this point, it is imperative to differentiate the Serpent representing Satan, and the normal serpent. Failure to draw this line can lead to wrong interpretation of the Scripture.
Why would Jesus tell His disciples to be as wise as serpents?
I believe there are good reasons for this exhortation. There are several thought-provoking observations we can draw from the serpent.
Snakes do not have external ears. Instead, they pick vibrations from the ground and make use of them. In fact, scientists say that snakes can tell when natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions are looming. They will become restless and leave the area days before the disaster strikes.
We were created with physical ears. We hear many things. Most of these things do not build us. They tear us down and degrade our will. They make us feel less and inadequate. ‘You cannot make it,’ ‘You do not qualify,’ ‘He is an imbecile,’ ‘She is stupid,’ ‘He is a dog,’ ‘She is a bitch’. Such are statements we hear thrown at us left, right and centre. Sometimes we have to shut off our ears and become alert to the vibrations and actions in the realm of the spirit. Shut off all negative comments. Shut off all discouraging comments. Shut off all demeaning comments. Just shut off. Ignore them. Do not let them sink into your heart. I have discovered that people will always have something negative to say about you whether you try to impress them or not. And that is the reason why we need to be physically dead but spiritually alert.
Snakes do not live in cold places like Antarctica. If we want to avoid this terrifying creature then we know where we should migrate to. As wise God’s kids, we are supposed to avoid cold places. These are places where there is no warmth, no fellowship, and no love. It is a place with no Fire of the Holy Spirit. You get there and you become numb, inertia and hence unproductive. We cannot stay warm until we get connected to the Heavenly Grid System. Getting connected to the Grid System mean that our wires tap into the power-lines and transmit the energy to us uninterrupted. We generally have the proclivity to be ‘cold bloodied’, and that is why we need to live in warm areas.
Scientists say that the warmer the snake’s body the faster they can digest their prey. The warmer we are, the faster we can understand the things of God. The quicker we can decipher spiritual mysteries and riddles. The healthy we become.
Snakes swallow their meal whole. They do not bite it. For example, the python swallows their prey wholly, including bones. The bones are digested slowly and supply the serpent with calcium. We should learn to want the Bread of God whole. The Bread gives life. We should take in the words of Jesus in totality. We are bound to become spiritually sick when we decide to selectively read and apply His Word. We are supposed to swallow the whole thing; hook line and a sinker. Don’t you think so?
Some snakes such as King Cobra are so venomous that they can kill an elephant. Let us remind ourselves that the elephant is the largest land animal. It does not have a predator. Not even the lion can dare attack the elephant. Even though it is massive and intimidating, the Cobra has the best of it. This is possible because Cobra has something potent that the elephant lacks.
The Bible in 1st John 4:4 says that the one who dwells in us is greater than the one outside. We have inherent powers within us, courtesy of Christ Jesus, and we can use this power to defeat every enemy, irrespective of their sizes.
Snakes shed their skin. They do this to allow for further growth and get rid of parasites that may have attached to the old skin. They rub against a rough and hard surface. We need to always remain relevant. We remain germane by renewing our minds and by meditating on the Book of the Law Day and Night. We remain relevant by shedding of the past bitterness, anger, failures, defeats and disappointments, for they are parasites that can destroy us. They keep feeding on our happiness, peace, hope, love and faith. Occasionally, the process of trying to shed off unnecessary baggage may be painful.
The World Health Organization has an emblem that has Asclepius carrying a staff encircled by a snake as a symbol of healing, rebirth and transformation.
Serpents also grow new fang after about two months. We should stop at nothing in getting ourselves appraised on the things of the Kingdom. Our effectiveness as followers of Christ depends on regeneration.
The decapitated head of a snake can still bite. Scientists say that this kind of bite contains huge amounts of venom. Perhaps this is the reason your father or mother told you to strike the head of the snake in an event of a combat with the reptile. It is the same reason that made Jesus crush the Serpent’s head at the Cross of Calvary.
We need to have unyielding spirits. We are not supposed to give up even when the odds are stacked up against us. In pain and hopelessness, we can still deliver deadly bites to our enemies. Our enemies are things such as fear, depression, anxiety and anger. Don’t lose your head. Even in the midst of challenging situations, don’t lose it. We shall need it to deliver the final blow. Our heads contain one of the potent weapons against the enemy. The enemy knows this and thus one of the first victims of an enemy attack is the head. Once we lose our heads, we cannot fight. On the other hand, as long as our heads are intact, we still have a chance to strike at the enemy.
The serpent has a tongue specifically for smelling the environment and they can tell which direction the smell is coming from. Our sensitivities should be so sharp that we can find direction to our destinies despite being surrounded with rudderless people in a radarless world.
The amount of food a snake consumes determines how many offspring it will have. If the black mamba decides to swallow mice per week, and the green mamba decides to swallow a rat biannually, then the black mamba will lay more eggs than the green mamba. The more we interact with the Spiritual food – The Word of God – the more we become productive. The more e mediate on it daily, the more we reproduce and the more we expand and spread our genes.
Infrequently snakes can bite themselves unintentionally and hence die. Sometimes we bite ourselves accidentally. We kill ourselves unknowingly. Why would we kill ourselves by consistently, insistently and persistently confessing negativity?
A snake never stops growing. It is called indeterminate growth. We can always keep growing. There should be no time when we say, ‘I am now a mature Christian’. Nada! We should keep aiming high. Paul affirms this in Philippians 3: 13.
Are we indeterminate Christians?
What are some of the other key lessons you can scrape together from the snake?