It was early in the morning, still in the dark part of the day, when I heard the paper flop down on my driveway. It was only a sliver of a moon and so there was virtually no light as I went out to get the paper and read some of the good news. As I walked out toward where the paper was lying in the dark of the morning, I noticed a crack in the driveway. My first thought was Yazoo Clay had struck again, but when I got there and started to pick up the paper, the crack in my driveway coiled up. With my lightning-fast mind, I concluded it was not a crack in the concrete or a stick but it might just be a snake.

I looked around for something I could grab and beat him to death and I found nothing. I wanted to run to the garage and get a hoe but I was afraid he would slip off into the grass and I wouldn’t be able to find him. So there we were having a stare-down in the darkness. He was not moving and I was not moving, and so I simply told him, “You stay right where you are. I’ll be right back.”

I took off, ran to the garage, got the hoe, turned on the front light, and there he was right where I’d told him to stay. I thanked him and gave him a few minutes to contemplate his exit from this world. Then just a few whacks and it was over.

Now, I do not believe trespassing is an offense that deserves the death penalty, but for a snake it seemed to be the right thing. I hate snakes and for those of you who are snake lovers, I apologize for my attitude but I just can’t get where you are. I know you think they’re beautiful. I know you would like to explain to me over and over how you would like to train me to understand the ones that are poisonous and the ones that are not. The problem is that even the ones who are not venomous still endanger my health by putting me on the edge of a heart attack. There are probably a hundred acres of forested, unused land around where I live and if snakes want to stay out there and stay out of my way, they’re welcome to do so — but in my yard, on my driveway, in the darkness of the morning, if I have half a chance, I will help them move on to their eternal reward.

Snakes in the Bible are an interesting study. The first one we see is creating havoc for Adam and Eve by tempting them and encouraging them to go the wrong way. While I’m not blaming everything on the snake, he certainly didn’t help matters. While I understand what He was trying to teach us, it still makes me uncomfortable when the Lord instructed us to be “wise as serpents, and harmless as doves” (Matt. 10:16). I know that snakes are intriguing because they can walk and not have any legs. They are good for the environment because they eat insects and mice and rats, but I just can’t get used to them being a part of my world.

I remember some years ago I had preached at a church one night and after a time of fellowship I was about to leave and the pastor came to me and said, “As you leave going down that dirt road, please drive slowly.” I said, “Okay. Why?” I figured he was going to say that there are deer running across the road or cars that don’t pay attention as they drive on that dark, country road but no, he said that there are black pine snakes that live between here and the highway and sometimes they are seen crossing the road and they are close to being an endangered species and we don’t want them to be killed.

I looked at the pastor and said, “Well, I’ve got an even better idea than me driving slowly then.” “What?” he asked. “Why don’t you go before me and check out your black pine snake friends and tell them you better get off the road because Jim Futral is coming this way and he doesn’t love you like I do.” He didn’t laugh, but at least he smiled and said, “Well, just try to dodge them then.” Fact was, I left watching for the snakes that might be passing back and forth and saw none.

As I think about snakes, they become a good analogy of what so many things in our world are like. There are good things that have been turned into bad things and bad things that resemble good things that we need to stay away from. There are people like this that you may run into that seem to be harmless and yet before you know it you discover they are toxic to your life. There are places you can go and events that you can be a part of that seem to be so nice and friendly, fun, and welcoming, only to find out that they will harm you, rob you, destroy you.

Watch and see people going into drinking establishments and what happens to so many of their lives. Watch what happens when people go to the glitz and glamour of the casinos. Over a period of time that establishment will leave them with nothing, and oftentimes it ruins more than just their pocketbooks. Watch what happens when someone gets trapped in an improper relationship, and it pulls them away to the point that their genuine relationships are harmed and their lives are crippled. There are snakes that are far worse than the one I encountered that morning. Neither you nor I have to worry about him anymore, but all these others are still around us all the time.

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Jim Futral
Executive Director-Treasurer