Sin’s Snare

Photo Courtesy of Adina Voicu/Pixabay

Today I find a grass snake sunbathing on a pink granite boulder. We startle each other and he slithers off (before I can get a picture), probably sulking. He did have the perfect spot to soak up the sun. But I can’t say I’m sorry to see him go. There’s something unsettling about the silent stealth of a snake. Its scaly body, piercing eyes, and forked, flicking tongue don’t help either. 

The only living things I dislike more are spiders. They give me the willies! All those legs and eyes and those larger-than-life pinchers… YUCK! The other day one was crawling on me… not on my clothes… on me! I could feel its hairy feet scampering cross my skin. My kids laughed when I did a wild highland jig trying to get the creepy thing off me.

My aversion to arachnids began at a young age. Bulging-bodied grain spiders hung from every nook and cranny in Grandpa’s barn. I kept a watchful eye on them when I helped put up hay, fearing one might attack me when I wasn’t looking. That never happened. The wolf spiders never attacked while I was playing in the water either, nor did the marbled orb weavers jump at me while I harvested wildflower seeds. But I know the sneaky little spiders in our house sometimes attack me at night. They leave clusters of itchy bites.

Exactly why spiders and snakes strike such fear in my heart, I’m not certain. But I find it interesting that both are used in Isaiah 59: 4-5, to describe the deception and lies running rampant in Judah. “No one sues righteously and no one pleads honestly. They trust in confusion and speak lies; They conceive mischief and bring forth iniquity. They hatch adders’ eggs and weave the spider’s web; he who eats of their eggs dies,and from that which is crushed a snake breaks forth.” 

Isaiah first compares the lies and wickedness of the people to snake eggs. The eggs that were eaten killed. The eggs that were crushed hatched even more evil. Then Isaiah compares the wickedness in which people were being ensnared to a well-woven spider’s web. What great word pictures! Can’t you just see a nest of snakey babies writhing in a tangled mass, each trying to escape but caught up in the mess? Or an insect vainly struggling to escape the sticky grip of a spider’s web? Perhaps this is the foundation for the old adage, “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”

There’s nothing inherently evil about spiders or snakes. God created them with care. Their subversive ways, however, are a reminder to us to avoid sin’s entrapment; to keep a watchful eye out for webs of deception that could entangle us, and to be wary of snake-like snares.

God’s Gifts: Above and Beyond

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Today I consider color. I look outside and see green trees. But all the trees are not the same green. They range in intensity from deep, almost-black green hemlocks to pale, almost-yellow green birches. Today white plume-like clouds reach across an intense blue sky. But sometimes the sky is pale blue with a splattering of gray clouds, or blue with a hint of sunrise or sunset. To say the sky is blue doesn’t quite cover it.

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Squirreling Things Away

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Today I watch our resident red squirrel raid the apple tree. She leaps along to the end of a branch much too thin to hold even her lightweight frame. The branch bends nearly to the ground, burdened not only by the apples it bears, but by the added weight of a hungry squirrel. She bites into the little green apple and tugs until the stem lets loose. Then she scampers down the squat trunk of the apple tree, across the lawn, and up to the lowest limb of our red pine.

I have to laugh. The apple she’s carrying is nearly as big as she is. Yet, she’s determined to take it home and either eat it for lunch or tuck it away for a rainy day. Suddenly Ginger, that’s what the girls named our red squirrel friend, realizes I’m spying on her. She scurries up the tree and takes a flying leap to a nearby birch.  I lose her in the branches and filtered sunlight.

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Thunder and Lightning

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Today a storm rolls through, darkening the midday sky with ominous, angry-looking clouds. Thunder rumbles long and low in the distance. The wind kicks up, tugging at the branches as it passes. The pines bend and bow to the gale’s superior power. Rain pummels the parched earth, sending sandy splatters into the nearby grass.  The large raindrops resound as they dive-bomb the granary’s metal roof. Lightning cuts through the curtain, followed almost immediately by a brilliant blue-white flash and an earth-shaking crack of thunder. That one was close! Nearby, splinters from the struck tree trunk litter the road.

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