Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Dogs, Snakes, & People, Oh My!

We've seen a lot of them this year. According to reports, warmer than normal winter temperatures and an increase in the number of rodents have led to an explosion in the snake population. Unfortunately, my husband, Steve, and I can attest to the fact. The snakes we're seeing? Copperheads.

Don't get me wrong, I have a healthy respect for the role snakes play in the environment - the copperhead eats small rodents, birds, lizards, other snakes, amphibians, and insects. The problem? When it comes to our dogs, up close and personal is a bit too, well, up close and personal!

Our Golden Retriever, Precious, had to learn the hard way that not all animals want to be her friend. As Steve and I headed out to walk our dogs, we could tell something was wrong with Precious. Although her tail wagged furiously as she came out of her doghouse, she didn't look right. Her slim retriever face had been replaced by that of a Shar Pei. With neck and face swollen twice their normal size, we loaded her into our SUV and headed for the vet.

Two tell-tale punctures above her lip, dotted with blood, spoke volumes. She had been bitten by a copperhead - the venom  causing the distortions to face and neck. A shot of steroids helped to bring the swelling down. Armed with antihistamine and antibiotics, the vet assured us that she would look like our familiar Golden within 48 hours. What a relief!

But we still had a problem. A snake problem. Where had the copperhead come from? And if there was one, there were probably more. Not a comforting thought.

We began the eradication process. Steve mowed over the ivy that had slowly begun creeping across Precious' area, and cleaned up the tree debris that doubled as a potential snake hideout. We were feeling much better already. But our relief was short-lived.

Over the next six weeks, Steve and I killed three copperheads  - each one within a stones' throw of our dogs. Unlike what I had read about these snakes, these copperheads seemed to be extremely bold. Instead of staying hidden during the day and relying on camouflage for safety, these slithering creatures were in plain sight on our walking path.

Obviously we needed to dedicate more time to yard clean-up. Woodpiles, leaf debris, and branches would all have to go. One step at a time.

What an important lesson for me. Without realizing it, I often leave myself vulnerable to the enemy. I allow sin to go unconfessed in my life - and pretty soon I've got piles of debris in my heart that become a breeding ground for more sin. If I refuse to begin the eradication process, the bite of sin will inject its venom - marring my testimony as a follower of Christ. The consequences are devastating - a broken relationship with the Lord, and the potential to cause others to stumble.

No one wrote more poignantly about the consequences of sin than King David. He accurately described the affect of concealing, then confessing his sin, "When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah," (Psalms 32:3-5; KJV).

Confession of sin invites forgiveness from the Lord. A clean heart re-institutes intimate fellowship with our Savior. What could be better?!

Do you have some internal housekeeping to do? Are there any piles of debris in your heart that need to be removed? What step will you take today to rid yourself of sin?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank You for the lessons I can learn from Your creation. Help me to willingly eradicate sin from my life, so I can have a right relationship with You. In Jesus' name, Amen.

*I'm hosting over at Living by Grace today. Come join in the discussion!


  1. Great analogy, Maria. I've been pondering some things along these lines lately. So glad you shared!

    Have a great week,

    1. Hi Karen! Getting down to identifying and purging sin from our lives is pretty humbling. So glad we serve a God who is ready to forgive! Have a blessed week!

  2. I hope Precious has fully recovered from the snake in her garden. Thank you for reminding me to watch for them in mine and to confess my sins (slithery beasts that they are) to Him.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Ann! Precious IS back to her normal perky self - in fact, I had to rescue a turtle from her yesterday! She wants to make friends with everyone! And I'm agreeing with you that sin is often slithery! Hugs and blessings!

  3. Hi Maria, I know I don't stop to comment too often but girl your posts always hit the nail on the head. Such a good illustration!
    We used to get rattlers in our yard in Ca. and somehow never got bit(or our dogs thankfully).
    How scary about your Precious! I love how you tied it into watching for our sins and housecleaning.
    Sending love your way today.

    1. Great to see you Noreen! I was just thinking about you the other day. Thanks for the sweet comment.

      Ugh! I think rattlers would be far worse than copperheads - although I'd rather see neither! Have a beautiful week and God bless you! Hugs! :)

  4. This was wonderful, Maria. Oh did I need it. Yesterday was a tough day with the kids, my 12 yr.old especially and I know at one point God told me to be His example of love and grace to my child...to which I responded very negatively (I wanted to hold onto my dirtpile of anger and "being in the right")...needless to say, the day spiraled out of control...today I'm "cleaning up my yard".

  5. What a great parallel! It's way too easy to put off that yard maintenance in our hearts and provide a refuge for sin. Good word!

    (And on a personal note, one of my labs got bitten by a snake last summer. Not serious, but her face sure did swell up like you described!)