About ten years ago my fifteen year old daughter and I went for a hike in the hills above Boulder. It was mid-April and we couldn’t wait to get out and stretch our legs and breathe deeply after a long winter of being cooped up inside.
We parked just off Hwy 36, at the trailhead. We’d brought our two medium-sized dogs, Dudley and Sprite, so we felt pretty safe.
The trail was a there-and-back kind of hike.
At the mid-point—about two miles into our hike—we passed through a wooded section, and paid particular attention because of the possibility of a lurking mountain lion. We made lots of noise, laughing and talking and swinging and hitting our walking sticks against tree trunks.
Then we heard it. The unmistakable and bone-chilling sound of an intimidated rattle snake.
We looked up to the rocks above us. A big rattler was sitting on a flat rock, about eight feet above us, flicking his tongue and rattling his warning.
We hurried to get away from the area. And we thanked God that the snake had not been closer to the trail. We made it to the turn around.
On our way back, Kiri and I kept reminding each other about the wooded section and to keep looking for the snake on the rock. Kiri was ahead of me, walking Sprite. Dudley was pulling me along as if he, too, was anxious to get past this spooky section of the trail.
I kept my eyes peeled to the right, scanning the rocks for the snake.
Just then out of the corner of my left eye, I saw the lightning-like movement. A snake on the trail…let me repeat….on the trail, had struck at Kiri, missing her calf by just inches. She hadn’t even seen it until I screamed a warning and she jumped clear.
Kiri picked up pebbles from the trail and began to pelt the snake. I yelled at her to stop it because the rocks were only making the snake bunch up into a tighter coil. We’d never get past him if he didn’t slither away from the trail. Even the dogs refused to budge.
The rattler wouldn’t move, so we had to climb up through some rocks and high grasses to get past that part of the trail, all the time fearing that we might encounter another snake.
After we got clear, we ran the two miles back to our car. And all the time, we kept thanking God for protecting us. Especially since we hadn’t brought a cell phone.
I’ve thought about that experience many times. Here are the lessons we’ve learned:
- Recognize that danger exists.
- Be alert…always. Predators strike when you think you’re safe.
- Be prepared. Know how you will meet a threat.
- Have a plan of defense or escape.
- Stay close to others.
Recognize danger, be alert, be prepared, have a plan, stay close.
Physical attacks can be terrible and traumatic. But, in the spiritual realm, attacks are no less devastating.
In the book of Ephesians, we are told to put on the full armor of God to defend against evil and evil forces. The author, Paul, was fully aware of spiritual danger and of the attacks of the devil.
- We need faith in God and His work on the cross,
- we need to practice doing right, so that we recognize wrong-doing,
- we need to know God’s Word well and be able to rightly handle it against worldly “wisdom,”
- we need to pray in alignment with the Holy Spirit.
- Stay close to others.
Faith in God, Do right, Know the Word, Pray, Fellowship.
“…take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” ( Eph. 6:16 NIV Bible)