Wednesday, October 14, 2015

31Days - King Cobra

I was a tomboy. I put worms on fishing hooks (after digging them out of the wet dirt behind the cemetery) and cleaned the fish I caught. I played with crawfish. Anything a boy could do.... Except I didn't really like snakes. I hid the slight fear I had and was still able to handle the small garter and racer snakes (getting bit at least once, which didn't do much for the fear). Couldn't show fear in front of the guys, though, after all!

I remember the day my girlfriend and I saw a snake we suspected might be venomous. We weren't close enough to see for sure, but it was lying on a drainage tile we could see from where we were standing on the bridge above. We thought it was dead. So we did the only logical thing two young girls could think of. We threw rocks toward the snake to make sure. It was well away from the bridge we were standing on and we were feeling pretty confident. Dumb idea. You knew that, right? When it suddenly moved, we jumped on our bikes and peddled for all we were worth for a very long time. That snake had been a LONG way from us but there was no way were we sticking around to see how far or how fast a ticked off, potentially venomous snake could move. In reality, it couldn't have known where that rock came from, let alone have been able to get to us. If anyone had seen us, though, they would have had a good laugh at our hasty retreat.

But the snake that really scared me... was the king cobra. I didn't know what it was that made me shudder with fear, but it terrified me. It didn't help that it was our elementary school mascot – painted right there (in purple!) on our gym floor. I even shuddered at the cartoonish figure every gym class. They've since changed it to an eagle to match the high school. Good idea.

So my fear for Day Fourteen:

I am afraid of the king cobra.

Okay. Did you really think I was gonna go there? With Biblical truth? (Yes, I'm grinning). Okay, so it's a little bit of a bait and switch, but in reality I felt differently about king cobras than other snakes. It wasn't about the lethal venom. There was something about the hood – not even really the dangerous part – that terrified me. I don't know how or why, but somehow I attached a sense of evil to that outstretched hood. That's what really invoked the deep sense of fear – evil.

It's a real fear... with some valid reasons behind it. There's some truth in the fear. But what's the real Truth? Truth with a capital T?

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
(Psalms 23:4)

We don't need to fear evil, because God is with us.

We tend to think of the rod and staff as one and the same, but in fact they are very different and serve different purposes. The rod was a club: a thick, heavy stick used for beating predators. It was slung over the shepherd's side. The staff was a long, straight pole carried in his hand and used for support, climbing, guiding, and helping the sheep in various ways. The rod and the staff together symbolize the power and affection of the shepherd.

Here's something I found interesting, though: The shepherd would go before the flock and beat the grass and bushes with his staff. Why? To scare out snakes lurking in the paths. The snakes would usually just slither away. Sometimes, though, a particularly bold snake might show a tendency towards fight rather than flight. The shepherd would then strike the snake with his club (rod), taking care to crush its head. A snake whose head is not crushed can still deliver a fatal blow to the sheep.

The first thing I found interesting about this is that it tied into the cobra/snake lead in. And I did not plan it that way! But the second thing I found interesting is that it reminded me of this scripture (which I was originally not going to use). This is God talking to the serpent (satan), giving the curse after the fall:

And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel.
(Genesis 3:15)

The seed of the woman actually refers to Christ in this passage. Christ is prophesied to deliver the killing blow to satan – crushing his head. The same thing a shepherd would have used his rod for.

The power of God's rod and the care of His staff comfort us.

`Should evil come upon us, the sword, or judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before You (for Your name is in this house) and cry to You in our distress, and You will hear and deliver us.'
(2 Chronicles 20:9)

No matter what the evil, God will hear our cry and deliver us.

And for added measure:
No evil will befall you,
Nor will any plague come near your tent .
For He will give His angels charge concerning you,
To guard you in all your ways.
They will bear you up in their hands,
That you do not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread upon the lion and cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you will trample down.

(Psalms 91:10-13)

Okay. I admit it. I about fell over when I saw the reference to the cobra. By name. I honestly didn't know it was in there when I started preparing for this post. I was researching evil, not cobras! But sometimes you just have to smile at where God leads you.

It's also interesting that the beginning of this passage (vs 11-12) is actually quoted by satan when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness. Jesus refused to deliberately put Himself in a dangerous situation to test God (as should we).

Jesus, on the other hand, referred to the last part of the passage (vs 13) when He sent His disciples out on a preaching mission:

Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you.
(Luke 10:19)

I get so excited when I see God tie things together like that! So cool!

I'd like to backtrack for just a moment, though, to reiterate that just because we've been given protection and authority doesn't mean we should intentionally put ourselves at risk. (Snake charmers need not apply!). Jesus demonstrated this when satan was tempting Him. He refused to do it.

I think back to my opening story and have to say that it was pretty stupid of my friend and I to engage that snake. It wasn't as stupid as it could have been because we really were a safe distance away. But... yeah... not the smartest decision either one of us has ever made. And we very quickly realized it!

But as I was thinking about that story this afternoon... and thinking about the direction I wanted to go with the cobra representing the topic of evil, I had another memory come to mind. Another time I engaged that I shouldn't have. I never saw the parallels before.... but I had nearly the same experience with true evil as I did with that snake. I've told this story to only a very select few. It could easily get me labeled as radical or just a child with an over-active imagination. But I swear to you it really happened.

I was probably 8-12 years old when I woke in the middle of the night and sensed something dark at the foot of my bed. It was almost shadow-like, but with a dark that went beyond shadow. Evil. I wasn't scared of the dark of my own room, but something struck fear in me that night. I tried to convince myself I was imagining things. So... much like throwing a rock at that snake that I thought was dead... I threw one out that night, too. I remember the words, "If you're real, then show yourself!" I honestly thought nothing would happen and I'd be able to go back to sleep knowing it was just my imagination. But something did happen. The very second I made the challenge, the light above my bed flashed like a bolt of lightning. And just like when I threw that rock, I knew instantly that I'd just engaged (and enraged) something I had no business engaging. And just like when I ran for the safety of my bike, I ran for the safety of my God. I don't know that I've ever had a prayer on my lips quite so quickly or as desperately as that night. But at my cry to God, I felt the presence leave. I was protected. I was safe. I fell asleep still praying.

The next morning I questioned whether I had imagined the entire thing... until I got out of bed and tried to turn on the light... and it didn't turn on. It didn't "blow" when I flipped the switch that morning. It had blown in the middle of the night – while the switch was turned off. And at the exact moment I'd issued the challenge. Scary? Yes. But at the same time, I think comforting. My God was bigger.

All that to say: I do believe our God is bigger. I do believe He will protect us from evil. But just because we have protection and authority, doesn't mean we should attempt to engage anything on our own. Paul gives us some instruction on that:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints....
(Eph 6:10-18)

We are to put on the armor of God so we will be able to resist evil.

Father God, thank you so much for Your assurances that we are under Your protection. Thank You for Your rod of protection and Your staff of care. Thank You for flushing out evil and crushing its head. Thank You for rescuing us... more times than we can even imagine. You are all powerful, all knowing, Alpha and Omega. And You are with us!

Fear: I am afraid of the king cobra evil.


  • We don't need to fear evil, because God is with us. (Psalms 23:4)
  • The power of God's rod and the care of His staff comfort us. (Psalms 23:4)
  • No matter what the evil, God will hear our cry and deliver us. (2 Chronicles 20:9)
  • No evil will befall you... You will tread upon the lion and cobra.... (Psalms 91:10-13)
  • Jesus has given us authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy... (Luke 10:19)
  • We are to put on the armor of God so we will be able to resist evil. (Eph 6:10-18)

By the way, I read today that a king cobra can reach up to 18 feet. And it can stand straight up with nearly 1/3 of its length. So an 18 foot cobra could rise 6 feet to literally look you in the eyes. Maybe some fear is actually good.... Just sayin'!


Note: This post is part of a 31-day writing challenge. Click here to see the rest of the posts on my 31 Days of Fear (and Truth).

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