Psalm 119:133 – Establish my steps and direct them by [means of] your word; let not any iniquity have dominion over me. (AMPC)
"BE AWARE OF RATTLESNAKES AND POISON IVY!" reads a warning about hiking in the Nez-Perce Clearwater National Forest in Idaho, USA.
Such a sign didn't exist when I went skipping ahead of my family on a sunny morning across the ancient lava flats high above the Clearwater River among the cedars and cottonwoods. There were plenty of elk, moose, cougars, and bears, but back then, only the occasional faraway ranger.
Suddenly, my father shoved me aside, shouldered his .22 rifle and fired point blank into the very next place that I would've stepped. A rattlesnake, coiled to strike, had just raised its head when that shot's BLAM! BLAM! rang out over the river valley, bouncing off the cliffs. With no first aid to be had, if I'd been bitten, I would've died there in the wilderness.
Remembering this story reminded me of the danger that I risked when I allowed such snakes into my life: smoking (but I know it isn't good for me), overeating (which has been called suicide by knife and fork), mindless television (when I could be about God's business), resentments (they did me wrong!), and drugs (the list of our own personal snakes marches on). Taking these snakelike sins away forever is what God's mercy is all about.
Life is a gift (which is, of course, why we call it the present). We unwrap it through our thoughts and actions. When that unwrapping is a daily prayer to be rid of anything that blocks us from the sunlight of God's Spirit, then what we should be doing and where we should be going becomes a lot clearer. John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress names some of the snakes that strike all of us at some time or another: pride, selfishness, anger, willful blindness, arrogance, stupidity, and cowardice — to name a few.
Without willingness to be rid of them, our life-snakes multiply and lead to death. But when we ask for God's forgiveness and help, the path that we travel becomes snake-free, letting us journey in freedom, happiness, and joy.
May we let God make such a change in us that we may model snake-free living to others, allowing them to seek to join us on the journey.
Psalm 37:23 – The steps of a [good] man are directed and established by the Lord when He delights in his way [and He busies Himself with his every step]. (AMPC)
Prayer: O Father God, keep us travelling along with You, through both the good and the bad corners of this world. We need Your presence every passing hour. Who but Yourself, our Guide and Friend can be? Abide with us, we pray, in Jesus' name. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "Abide With Me" (Lyrics)