A ranger in Kentucky said that Copperheads attack flames before they retreat from a forest fire. It is a clear picture of the danger we’re in when we believe we can overcome the assault of the enemy of our souls without a plan. And that plan is not our own.
‘Finally, be strengthened in the Lord and in the strength of His power. Clothe yourselves with the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.’
Remember the scene with Indiana Jones when he jumps into a plane to escape and finds a snake on his seat? “Snakes, I hate snakes.” Indiana Jones isn’t the only one who is repelled by the reptiles. My first encounter with the invertebrates dates to sixth grade. In order to pass science class, you had to touch a garter snake. The teacher grabbed my hand and forced the snake into it. Problem was, I’d heard my uncle’s stories about rattlers biting his cows when they lowered their heads to eat. The consequences? Blotted bovines.
Avoiding rattlers is dead easy. Don’t go where they habitat. However, I was a western girl, my grandparents had farms and we camped in the Oregon woods. Walking quietly in a pristine forest is not wise if your desire is to keep clear of snakes. And look before you lower your bum onto a log, turn over a rock, or peek into a cavern.
My anathema to snakes grew exponentially while living in Thailand. Posted on the wall at our military base were the poisonous snakes in the area. Photos accompanied what I dubbed, ‘The Dead not Alive,’ poster. I clutched our baby and memorized the appearance of Green Tree Vipers, Cobras, and assorted water snakes.
I only encountered two of the local types in my eight months living at Pattaya Beach. A Green Tree Viper shot out of a tree above my head and landed three feet away from my bare legs. Somehow, with baby in arms I levitated onto a cement porch and pounded on the door of a neighbor. Luck, you say? I would offer another explanation. The hand of God lifted us. I was never a standing broad jump type of girl.
Then there was the cobra. I had released my three students from school and we met at the pool with four other kids and one other mom for a swim. Our toddler was floating nearby in her arm rings when I spotted a cobra slither into the water. “Deadly, very deadly,” to borrow a quote from Raiders of the Lost Ark. I yelled at Nora, the other mom who was between the snake and the children. After getting two kids out, I pulled myself onto the cement walk. The snake aimed our direction from the deep end. She snagged the children paddling around and began to throw them to me. Those who could, scrambled out of the water. As the last child vacated the pool, I checked the foliage for the cobra’s mate.
To be attacked when you think you’re safe is unnerving. However, it is what we see in spiritual warfare. When you think you are prepared, safe, on guard, the enemy sneaks behind the lines and destroys. Ephesians 6 is clear about how to be armed for the inevitable encounter. It is not by our might, power or preparation but by God’s word and power that we are protected. To put on shin guards protects a small portion of the body. It is the whole armor of God that we need.