Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Kermit the Snake

My An Arkie's Faith column from the March 9, 2016 issue of The Mena Star.

Recently my wife and I along with friends spent the afternoon at Cossatot River State Park. The park stretches for 12 miles along the scenic Cossatot River. The visitor information center is located on U.S. 278 east of Wickes where the highway crosses the Cossatot River. The center is beautiful and features an exhibit gallery, a lovely sitting room with a wildlife viewing area, and a gift shop.

One of the park interpreters is a longtime friend. She grew up in the area and loves the outdoors. We were able to spend some time with her during our visit to the park. One of her duties is to care for the reptiles that are onsite at the visitor’s center. While we were there she removed the resident rough green snake from its enclosure. Rough snakes are docile and nonvenomous. They live in grassy fields and forests, preferably close to water sources. The rough green snake has a bright green back and a yellow underbelly, with rough scales covering its very thin body. They can grow to be between three and four feet long.

The park interpreter introduced the snake to us and told us its name was Kermit. She offered to let my wife hold Kermit. She was hesitant at first but we encouraged her. She was instructed to hold her hands out palms up. Kermit was placed in her hands and after smelling the air and investigating a bit, he wrapped himself around her arm and settled in.  The snake appeared to be very comfortable. The park interpreter explained that the snake likes the warmth of a person’s skin. Kermit and my wife became very comfortable with each other.

When a friend that was with us was given the opportunity to hold Kermit, her response was a forceful no! She said that just like the Bible stated, she had a lot of enmity for snakes. Is there a biblical reason that so many people have a fear of snakes? I’m sure you remember the story of Eve’s encounter with the serpent in the Garden of Eden. The serpent convinced Eve to disregard God’s command and eat fruit from the one tree that was forbidden. Because of her and her husband Adam’s decision to disregard God’s command everything changed.

When God came to walk in the garden in the cool of the day, He asked Eve, “Did you eat fruit from the tree from which I commanded you not to eat?” She answered, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” So the Lord God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed.” Genesis 3:13-15 (NKJV)

As I read this passage in different versions I found these variants; “I will make you and the woman enemies” (NCV), “I will cause hostility between you and the woman” (NLT), “I’m declaring war between you and the woman” (MSG), “I will put animosity between you and the woman” (TLV), and “I will make you and the woman hate each other.”(NLV) Even if we no longer commonly use the word enmity, I think that we get the idea that there is a problem between the snake and the woman.

The Bible tells us that the snake is Satan. Revelation 12:9 (NCV) says, “The giant dragon was thrown down out of heaven. He is that old snake called the devil or Satan, who tricks the whole world.” I hope that you have enmity with Satan. Even though God placed hostility towards Satan in humans, not everyone feels that way. The Bible tells us in James 4:4 (NKJV), “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

Too often Christians become comfortable with the snake. Just like my wife at first was hesitant about holding Kermit the snake but after a while became comfortable, as we put ourselves in compromising situations we lose our enmity towards Satan. How do we keep that from happening? 1 John 2:15,16 (NLT) says, “Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.”

Sometimes the things that the world offers us seem so enticing just like the fruit of the forbidden tree did to Eve. Gentle Reader, don’t let the love of this world make you an enemy of God. Your enemy is Satan. “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 (NLT)

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