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Pythons, rattlers, and spiritual serpents

Rattlesnake skin along a hiking trail (Credit: Jim Denison)I read last week about the largest Burmese python ever caught in Florida—17 feet, 7 inches long and 164½ pounds.  It was pregnant with 87 eggs, also a record.  Herpetologists are going to study it to learn its digestive habits, though one said, "A 17½-foot snake could eat anything it wants."  I would think so.

I did a little research, discovering that Burmese pythons spend much of their time in trees until they grow so large they have to dwell on the ground.  They grab their victim with their teeth, coil their bodies around the animal, and squeeze it until it suffocates.  They are then able to swallow it whole.

This uplifting news was on my mind over the weekend as I went for a long hike in the woods.  Along the trail, I came upon the skin of a rattlesnake along the path.  We have no Burmese pythons in our area, but rattlesnakes are abundant.  The thought occurred to me: if I was looking for pythons in the trees, I would miss rattlers on the ground.

The spiritual serpent who has come "to steal and kill and destroy" (John 10:10) loves to attack us by stealth.  He doesn't want us to recognize his presence and tactics until it's too late.  One of the ways to defeat him is to recognize his strategy.  Where have you been susceptible to temptation in the past?  What areas of weakness did he exploit yesterday?  Those are likely to be areas where he'll attack again today.

Hebrews 12 warns us to "throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles" (v. 1).  The King James Version says it differently: "let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us."  The Puritans used to talk about "besetting sins," those repetitive temptations we face.  They would be careful to name them, to stay alert against them, and to pray for God's strength in these areas.

What rattlesnakes are on your trail?



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