On Northern Indiana visits during warmer months, I sometimes ask the Lord to let me see a snake. Though not my favorite critters, they operate with such stealth that sighting one is a special event.
Mom’s house is on Center Lake where nature abounds with ducks, turtles, Canada geese, woodchucks, chipmunks, cardinals, heron, muskrats – even a deer once – and the occasional legless reptile.
Memory holds a vivid picture of the big blue racer (snake) that chased my friend Ed up our back hill when we were kids, but by and large nature is gentle around here. Bushes are thornless and barefeet are safe from pricklies nearly everywhere. According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the only poisonous snake in these parts – the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake – is rare and lives as a recluse in remote wetlands.
37 years ago, my brother Lane and I won the 3.5 mile 4th of July Tippecanoe River race (where one major goal is to avoid tipping on Tippy!) and Mom still has the canoe that floated us to victory. This is the story of one fine summer day when I took that canoe out on Center Lake and the Lord answered my reptile request.
I’d paddled about a half mile from shore when, suddenly and silently, a 13″ black snake dropped onto the centerline from under the vacant bow seat, and there we were, having fellowship – defined as two fellows in the same ship!
It wasn’t a rattler, but my first instinct was to jump out, not knowing what would happen when the little guy realized our predicament. I also wondered what might be under my seat! It was an uncomfortable situation, to say the least, for me, and likely also for the stowaway. Alternating between elevating bare feet and legs on the gunwales and the stern thwart, I paddled hard into the nearby canal hoping to haul out and persuade him (or them) to disembark, but the shore was all rocks and seawalls.
What a relief to spot a man fishing off the end of his pier. Remember the lanky Sheriff Woody doll in Toy Story? Pull his string and you might hear, “There’s a snake in my boot!” Well, I called out, “May I dock at your pier, there’s a snake in my boat.” Rather than wave me in, however, the wary fisherman asked, “How big is it?” Sensing perhaps “we” were not welcome, I turned around and tried for home. It seemed to take forever.
About halfway there, the little guy slithered into the enclosed refuge under the bow deck and disappeared. Of course, I still didn’t know if he was the only one. Eventually we made it to dry land. I hauled out and flipped the boat over, but never saw my first mate again. God had answered the snake-sighting prayer with a resounding and memorable yes!
This experience highlighted that God’s answers to prayer can:
- Catch us by surprise.
- Come in unexpected, possibly even undesirable, ways.
- Come under circumstances that challenge our comfort level.
What an adventure for the Thinking Christian Woman to share with Him all the big or little things on her heart, then stay alert for His creative and sometimes unusual responses!
© 2011 Melody K. Anderson
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