Something frightening recently took place in a private garden in South Texas. While gardening in her backyard, a nurse named Jennifer spotted a rattler near her hand. An instant later it rose to striking position.
“SNAKE!” she screamed. Her husband, Jeremy, working nearby, grabbed a shovel and ran over. First, he tried to scoop the reptile up, hoping to toss it beyond striking distance. When that failed, he slammed the shovel’s blade down on its triangular head, slicing it from the body a few inches down the neck. The snake collapsed to the ground.
The threat over, the relieved couple left the area. Ten minutes later, Jeremy returned to move the snake’s carcass out of reach of possible interference from person or pet. This time he bent to pick up a stick beside the snake’s head, hoping to use it to flick the reptile’s remains into a nearby bush. But before Jeremy’s hand even touched the stick, something bizarre happened. The snake – or its remains – reared up, embedding its fangs and multiple charges of venom in his hand. Razor-like teeth tore through flesh to the bone; released, then struck again, injecting even more venom.
Experts report that such a reaction from a seemingly dead snake is more common than most of us realize. Because of their slow metabolism, it takes cold-blooded creatures a very long time to die. And when a snake’s system feels a death threat, its adrenal response causes it to release all available venom into its victim.
He should have died, but Jeremy survived, though with two fewer fingers, and an increased sense of gratitude for life’s many blessings.
I’m reminded of something else that refuses to die, though God knows many who hate it have tried – are still trying – to kill it through intimidation, unfair laws, ridicule and even torture.
In his classic volume, Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis comments, “Again and again [the world] has thought Christianity was dying…But every time the world has been disappointed. Its first disappointment was over the crucifixion. The Man came to life again. In a sense – and I quite realise how frightfully unfair it must seem to them – that has been happening ever since. They keep on killing the thing that He started: and each time, just as they are patting down the earth on its grave, they suddenly hear that it is still alive and has even broken out in some new place. No wonder they hate us.”
Does the increasing persecution of Christians in certain hot spots around the world trouble you as it does me? Let Jesus’ words remind us of truth. “I will build my church,” he said, “and even Hell can’t keep it out.”
Despite all the venom Satan, that old serpent, has injected into it, our Christian faith cannot die. Jesus’ death on the cross testified to both God’s unfailing love and required justice, simultaneously spelling ultimate triumph over a defeated serpent.
Hang onto Jesus, and hang onto that.