Snakes on An Island

He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; that is why it is said, “Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the LORD.”(Genesis 10:9 NIV)

In the late 1980s one of the US news services broadcast an hour long story about the ubiquitous snakes on Guam. These slithering creatures originally arrived after WWII in shipments of wood from the Philippines during reconstruction. With no natural predators on the island they were quick to be fruitful and multiply. By the time of the news report they outnumbered the humans on the island 2 to 1. With this astounding fact and other little bits of history the news service frightened people into thinking our home was overrun with snakes and we lived in daily fear of being bitten.

While this generated great sympathy for our family we must admit there was little, if any, danger from the extremely persistent snakes. The most annoying problem was their propensity to climb around barriersin order to short out power lines causingisland wideblackouts. The island power grid, which was tedious at best, responded to the little snakesclimbing abilities and plunged the island into the dark ages. The first report in local newspapers after a power outage was almost always a report of a snake in the poles, or the transformers, causing the automatic breakers to fail and thus back feed the generators and bring them to a screeching halt. When the power dominoes fell this far it was between six and ten hours before the system would come back on line.

Never the less we did have a couple experiences with snakes. I was working on the bench at the transmitter site. While sitting on a stoolconcentrating on a project, one of my mission colleagues called for my attention. Held within the pinches of a long pair of pliers was about a three foot snake. He wasn’t a happy snake. Expecting a spectacular exclamationof fear from me my colleagues were disappointed when I just shrugged my shoulders and turned back to my work. (I used to play with snakes as a young man in Ohio.) Setting theslithering creature on the floor they were hooting about being trapped. I calmly said, “Well, that’s OK, I have work to do. However, it’s going to be a real mess if the snake goes into one of the cable troughs in the building. You’ll be busy all day trying to get it out.” My colleagues quickly glanced at one another then lunged to recapture the snake and return him to the wild of the antenna field.

One spring I was ill for about two weeks with pneumonia. Being a victim to a long term illness in a new culture was quite an experience. One Japanese family brought me watermelon to eat. It was supposed to help me recover quickly. A Chinese family kept insisting I need some Vick’s Vapor Rub. Application of this smelly substance covered by pieces of tape would, as they presented it, cure everything from the common cold to a broken leg. Forgoing the local medical customs I accepted the prescribed antibiotic, and spent the majority of two weeks in bed.

Late one night I heard a noise in the kitchen. Rousing myself from a restless sleep I wandered out to the kitchen. I left the lights off to keep from disturbing Beth or the children. When I arrived at the kitchen I didn’t see anything and then heard another noise near the window over the sink. I wandered to that side of the kitchen and peered out the window to the carport seeing no one. Then I noticed something silvery at the bottom of my field of vision. I backed up a step, looked down and saw a silver sliver of light move along the bottom of the window. Reaching over my head I pulled the switch cord on the lamp. Blinking a couple of times to adjust to the light I was surprised to find a three foot snake on the kitchen counter with his head inspecting the inside of a crock pot. I could only assume it was in search of a late night snack. I made a funny noise, OK a yelp, took a step back and looked for some instrument of defense.

I found a machete and poked at the snake until he wiggled through the screen over the sink and dropped to the carport outside. I grabbed a flashlight and headed out to hunt down my escaping prey. I made a loud ruckus in the trash bins, knocked over some boards and otherwise disturbed the entire neighborhood. I slashed out at the departing intruded to no avail. He was faster than my bad aim. Hedropped into a drainage ditch and quickly disappeared into the boonies (an island term for wild woods) behind our home. Returning to the house I was greeted by a sleepy family curious about the noises their sick father was making and totally unimpressed at my skirmish with a beast from the forest! So much for the great hunter!

Sometimes dangerous situations slither into the Christian life. We attack them but they slither away into the darkness. I might not be a mighty hunter like Nimrod but I hope I recognize these snakes in my life and chase them into the boonies. I thank God for his Spirit which allows me to turn on the light in my life, see the danger and then respond in God’sstrengthto chase away the snakes. Have you seen any snakes lately?


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