A few years ago, I read the following from, “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young: “The challenge that continually comes before you is to trust Me and search for My way through each day.” At the time, I confess to laughing out loud and admitting my struggle to abide by this sentence. Let me explain:
Earlier that week, I discovered a large black snake in our dog pen and reluctantly killed it because it was too close to our house. Several days later, I was called home by my wife to kill another black snake, this time inside our basement where our dog sleeps. The next day, I was cleaning the basement when another snake came slithering down the wall. I’m not a particularly brave person around snakes but not seeing any other options I gathered up my courage and killed snake number three.
That afternoon while tending to our dog I saw yet another snake crawling down from the ceiling of the same room. I grabbed my shovel, but this time I missed and the snake escaped back into the ceiling.
At this point, I didn’t know whether to call an exterminator or just put a “For Sale” sign in front of the house. That night, the dog stayed with us and we all slept with the lights on imagining snakes crawling all around us.
We called in a wildlife expert and discovered the snakes were using the dog door to come into the house and mate. With his help we were able to seal the entrance and never saw any snakes again. But the next few weeks were filled with tension. We were getting very little sleep. I even cancelled part of my schedule to be around the house more. We were getting impatient and moody, all because of a few snakes.
So a devotion read during that time was very appropriate: “The challenge that continually comes before you is to trust Me and search for My way through each day.”
How do we trust God in the midst of snakes?
We all face snake-like obstacles of one kind or another. The phone call from the doctor’s office asking to see you right away. A sleepy driver runs through a stop sign directly in front of your car. The sudden unplanned bill in the mail. The boss who chastises you. The friend who suddenly won’t speak to you.
A sudden movement catches your eye and out comes a slithering snake of unplanned difficulties.
Do you remember this portion of Psalm 23? “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil.” The passage seems to be talking about food but that doesn’t make much sense in a Psalm about sheep and shepherds. Then I discovered David could actually be writing about snakes. Did you say snakes? Yes, snakes!
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies: you anoint my head with oil.”
In mountainous regions, a “table” describes a flat section of land within slopes. Before entering a new “table,” a shepherd inspects the ground for holes which are potential hiding places for poisonous brown snakes. Then he “prepares the table” by pouring thick oil in each hole. Next, the shepherd “anoints” the sheep’s nose and mouth with the same oil making the surface too slippery to bite.
Good shepherds who lovingly care for their sheep do that!
In the midst of our snakes, God, our loving shepherd, inspects the “tables” before us, providing safety but when an occasional snake does appear we are anointed with God’s oil of comfort and grace protecting us from the poisonous bite.
So, the devotion offers wisdom: “The challenge that continually comes before you is to trust Me and search for My way through each day.” Even when snakes appear? Yes!
Are there snakes slithering down the walls of your life? Have they soured your disposition and challenged your faith? Get out a Bible and read Psalm 23 again. Read the words slowly and think about what it means for you to personally receive the Good Shepherd’s anointing oil of protection. “Wow! I feel safer already. Do you?
“The challenge that continually comes before you is to trust Me and search for My way through each day.” As you receive those day to day challenges, remember God’s promise: “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil.”