When Danger Lurks in an Appealing Package

snake's rattle

My husband came in to tell me he’d killed it. I had to go see.

By the side of the house, on the path between the front door and the side gate in the adobe wall that surrounds the pond, I found it. A western rattlesnake was still slowly coiling and uncoiling, but it was dead, its head crushed by a blow from a two-by-four. (Don’t ever touch a freshly killed rattlesnake. It can deliver a reflex bite for up to an hour.)

How sad. If it had been well away from the house and shop, I would have enjoyed seeing it. I like snakes, even rattlesnakes, but an ambush predator that might inject you with venom if you surprise it can’t be allowed to stay where people walk all the time.

As much as I appreciate the elegant design and graceful beauty of a rattlesnake, I won’t let it stay too close. I might walk by it safely a hundred times without even noticing it, but when it decides to strike…

How often do we not see the hazard in something before it’s too late?

We’re living in a time where the boundary lines between what our culture calls good and what it calls bad are constantly shifting. Sometimes the boundary doesn’t just shift. Sometimes it’s a complete reversal, where the former evil is called the new good and the old good is condemned as evil.

Some of the changes have been positive, but others have been inspired by the desire to define good and evil ourselves without reference to God.

It’s so easy to be tempted to do what our friends are doing. If everyone is doing it, surely there’s no harm in us doing it, too. And so we do. And in the beginning, that doesn’t seem to be a problem.

We may seem to get away with doing it for a while. But then…like the rattlesnake sitting quietly under a bush at the edge of the trail, what we thought was so harmless suddenly bites.

Sometimes that bite is actually God’s loving discipline to protect us from much worse long-term consequences.

A parent who truly cares tries hard to warn of the dangers before the child gets hurt. But when we were kids, who of us always listened to the warning and took it to heart if we didn’t know there was a consequence for ignoring what mom or dad just said? It may not have seemed so at the time, but that discipline was born of love.

Long before our choices draw penalties, it’s time to ask ourselves, “Whose child am I? Is what I want to do, what everyone says is fine, also what my Father says I ought to do? Is it good in God’s eyes? Will I choose what I know is right, or will I walk the path that will ultimately lead me into places I never intended to go?

God knows the inclination of our hearts, and He tells us in the Bible what choices will be best for us. All because he loves us as his children…and somethings that love includes discipline.

My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights. (Proverbs 3:12-13, ESV)

Have you ever felt God’s discipline after you strayed? Have you known the peace that comes after it’s over and you’re on the right track again?