Snakebite!

by Pat Lockridge

A group of short-term missionaries rowed up to the shore of the remote island in Malaysia. They were making a “first contact” with a remote tribe. This was to be an information-gathering trip. They would be observing the tribe from a distance. It was raining hard and some members of the group were soaked to the skin. They clamored out of the boat and sloshed through the thigh-high water to reach the shore conscious of the fact that they might not be making a good first impression. The natives that inhabited this remote island were used to such storms, and were obviously better able to deal with them. They sat in their grass-covered huts looking out into the deluge with half-smiles on their faces. Their half-naked bodies were unencumbered with saturated clothing that needed to be removed and dried.
Trevor, the leader of the missions’ group, led them to some palms that provided shelter. After a few minutes, the downpour stopped and the group set about gathering wood to start a fire on the beach. Trevor gathered a large bundle of dried sticks and palm fronds that he dropped into the fire. Suddenly, out of the bundle of sticks came a Malayan snake that immediately attached itself to his hand. Frightened, Trevor shook the snake into the fire.
The natives had begun to come out of their huts to look at these strange people from another land. When they saw the snake attach to Trevor’s hand, they pointed and began to talking rapidly in their dialect. One of the men, a leader, approached Trevor, and acted out what he knew would be Trevor’s fate: swelling, convulsions, and dying.
Trevor was frightened, more frightened than he had ever been in his life. His hand stung, and he could see two points where the snake’s fangs had punctured his skin. Was he really about to die? Who would take his team back to Kuala Lumpur? No one else could speak this dialect, and no one else knew the way back to civilization.
Suddenly he remembered the incident in Acts when Paul had also been bitten by a snake. Nothing had happened to Paul. When the natives in that case had seen what Paul’s God had done for him, it had opened the door for ministry to those natives. Then Trevor heard the Holy Spirit whisper in his spirit: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8 NIV)
Trevor smiled. His God could deliver him from the snake bite. His God could heal him. His God would bring glory to Himself and confirm the good news they hoped to bring to this remote people. It would be just as it had been two thousand years before when Paul was bitten. He got up, stood straight, and began working to help his team mates.
As expected the natives marveled at this. As they watched Trevor the rest of the day, and when he was not harmed by the snake bite, they said in their dialect, “The LORD-He is God!” (I Kings 18:39 NIV)

A Test

Sweat ran down Amando’s brow. He was sitting in the final for his Calculus II class. He glanced at his friends, Chad and Michael. They, too, looked concerned. Chad put his hands together as if in prayer and looked up. He was reminding them that they had studied for this exam. Now was the time to trust God. The pressure was intense because they needed good grades on this exam to get into med school.

Only a few days before, Kevin, one of the other students in the class had pulled them aside. “We found the answers to the final,” he had told them. “Copy these down!”

Amando had looked shocked! “Wow, that’s cheating. If you guys get caught…”

“If we get caught, we will know that you turned us in. My dad is the vice chancellor. We will get you expelled. Try to get into medical school after that!”

Michael, looking frightened, had said, “We can’t do what we know is wrong. Our God sees what is going on and, if we cheat, we are not honoring Him.”

“And if you don’t cheat, you guys are out a’ here, and your future is toast!”

Chad thought about his girl friend already in med school. Michael thought of his parents and the selfless sacrifices they had made for him to go to school.  Amando thought of his pregnant wife.

“It is not just about us,” Chad had said. Amando had replied, “We won’t dishonor our God by cheating even if it means not getting into med school! We are going to study at the library!”

They had spent the ensuing days studying thoroughly for the exam. Now was the moment of truth. The exam was graded on “the curve.” Would they be able to compete successfully with students who already had all the answers? …obviously, only with the Lord’s help.

Several days later, the grades were available at their student login site. Chad, Michael, and Amando each checked their scores and class standings. They were near the top of the curve! What was even more surprising was that many of the other students had not even passed.

One of the other students in the class came up to them. “We have all been notified that we have been put on probation for cheating,” he said. The answers that Kevin got were for last semester’s exam. The prof changed the questions, so we all failed! We are going to have to repeat this semester of calculus. By the way, I would like to know more about your God. He really protected and helped you!”

***
A similar story about three friends who were protected when they refused to dishonor God is found in Daniel chapter 3. They escaped the fiery furnace by the Lord’s grace.

28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.” 30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon. Daniel 3:28,29,30 NIV

Blackout!

Judy had hurried about all afternoon trying to get her lovely home in tip-top shape for her guests who were due to come that evening. In the midst of her preparations, she couldn’t get a Face Book post out of her mind. It had come from a pastor in India. He had a message that had been strange…almost foreboding: “I have a huge burden for America. Something is about to happen…the devil is going to “sift” your country. “I have prayed for you that your faith would not fail. Luke 22:31*”” Judy had never received such a communication. She had to admit she was letting it bother her and interfere with her preparations for the evening.

Phyllis arrived first. Next Mary and Gary entered the room. Mary was her usual cheerful self, but Gary seemed quieter than usual. Mary had been preparing for tomorrow’s women’s group, but she admitted “I feel like maybe I will never teach this lesson.”

Suddenly, Gary interrupted. “We need to stop all this chatter! Now! We need to start praying right this very minute.”

Judy , taken back by his forthright interruption–totally out of character for the quiet man, agreed. “Lord, we do come to you now. We put ourselves in your hands for the outcome of this evening. Whatever that pastor in India saw for our country, we ask that you protect us from that now …

Suddenly, Wilson, Judy’s husband rushed into the room. “I have been watching the TV downstairs, and there has been an attack…a series of attacks-Fifty or more. Icil has hit the major electrical power stations with car bombs. There are fluctuations and power outages all across the grid and…” As if to punctuate his announcement, the room went black. The refrigerator stopped humming, the furnace fan stopped, and an eerie quiet engulfed them.

Judy recovered first. “Honey, I’ll get the candles, and you find the battery-operated lantern. I think it is in the garage. Oh, and see if you can find that hand-crank emergency radio. You guests just stay here. If you try to move, you may bump into something and fall.”

In a few minutes, Judy and Wilson had restored a small amount of light to the room, but there was no heat, and the November night was going to be a cold one.

Gary and Wilson, anxious to know more about the seriousness of the situation locally, decided to venture out in Gary’s car. There were a few lights flickering in the windows of the residences, but the street lights were all out as were the lights in the business. A gang was looting the local Safeway, their guns in full display.

Meanwhile, back at the residence the ladies had begun to pray Psalm 91 for the guys who were still out in the car.
“…You will not fear the terror of night…A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.” Psalm 91:5,7*

There was the sound-the sound of a key turning in a lock. Gary and Wilson had returned safely. Their prayer had been heard…and answered!

Psalm 61:3* “For you [God] have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe.”

*All verses are from the NIV.

Safe!

It had been several days since they had been warned to stay inside. Danny (6) and Tanner (15) sat across the basement room with the TV constantly humming away in the background. The step-brothers were absorbed in playing their favorite games on their tablets stopping only occasionally to get something to eat from the fridge under the bar. They had heard nothing from Marybeth, Danny’s mother, and the TV warned that those caught out-of-doors or in their cars within miles of the nuclear explosion would have perished.  Marybeth had been on her way home from work when the explosion occurred. Occasionally an aerial view of the area flashed on the screen. Nothing was recognizable in the rubble near the epicenter. Further out, the shapes of cars covered with lethal, radioactive dust could be seen on the severely damaged freeways. The truth of the disaster had not dawned on the boys. How could it? They had never heard of such a thing. It was totally foreign to their experience.

“Will you get me some juice, please?” asked Danny.

“Get it yourself,” retorted Tanner.

“But Mom said that you were s’posed to help me.”

“Well, ‘Mom’ isn’t here, now is she? Looks like maybe she’s not coming back. Probably stuck in that traffic jam on the interstate. Looks like all those folks who were driving when the explosion came are “out’a this world.””

“You mean she’s not coming back, ever? No, no, no!”. Danny burst into tears. “That can’t be. She would never leave me. She wouldn’t even leave you.”

“Yeah, so where does that leave us? Nowhere, that’s where. Dad is still in Afganistan. Looks like the world is going to He.. out there and…”

“Mom said, “Don’t  say that word. You are bad, Tanner. You are s’posed’ to be a ‘zampl’ for me, ya know. You are not being a good brother, I’m going to tell Mom…”

The muffled sound of an explosion perhaps a mile away was followed by a gentle shaking of the room. “What was that?” A second later it came again, louder this time. What was happening? “We may be in big danger!” exclaimed Tanner.

“My Sunday School teacher says that Jesus loves us and wants to save us.” offered Danny.

Tanner snorted, “That is not the kind of “save” we need right now. She is talking about being saved from sin. What we need is for someone to come along and save us out of this mess. We need someone to discover us here, and take us to a place where we will be safe–where the there are no more explosions.”

“I bet Jesus can do that!”

“Whatever! Don’t bother me. I am trying to figure out our next move.”

There was a blinding flash, then a terrific roar. Immediately Danny saw a smiling Jesus standing before him and ran into his outstretched arms. In the crowd behind the Lord, Danny recognized another smiling face:  that of his own mother!  Danny was safe!

“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more.“” Luke 12:4