This past weekend I got to visit both sets of my grandparents for Mother's Day
My Grandpa Lynn and Granny Alice have, over the past several years, transformed their backyard into a Secret Garden-esque tropical rainforest paradise. There are flowering plants of all kinds, fruits and vegetables galore, and enough shade to make wandering through the rows bearable.
Their property backs to the Davy Crockett National Forest so it's easy to get lost in the natural and cultivated beauty.
My little cousin, Bella, and I took a walk along one of the neighborhood trails and found a field full of wildflowers, humming with bees and butterflies.
The sun shone warmly.
Birds flew in and out among the many feeders, giving us glimpses of colorful wings.
After our traipse in the garden, Bella and I returned to the house to treat our mosquito bites and join the rest of our family.
Later, the rest of the grandkids went outside for a game of soccer
(Bella and I had had enough mosquitoes though, thank you!)
The game came to a screeching halt when, as my uncle retrieved the ball from the garden, he found a 5 foot long snake caught in the garden netting.
Thankfully the snake was caught tight enough in the netting where it could not get out, and my uncle was able to kill it quickly.
(Taylor is insane. And super cool)
I'm not a snake expert, but I was told that this snake was a water moccasin (also known as a cottonmouth). It is a species of viper and its venom can be fatal.
While I am so grateful that no one was hurt and that this guy is no longer with us,
it made me much more aware of the surroundings that I had carelessly skipped through earlier in the day. Enamored with the beauty of the flowers and sky, I neglected to put my guard up. Who knows how long Mr Fangs was hanging out in the garden? Perhaps he was there while I was leaning in for the perfect shot of the berries.
I don't know about y'all, but one of the biggest ways that God speaks to me is through situations. Something happens (oh, like finding a snake in the garden) and then BAM- spiritual revelation, and God speaks wisdom through these scenarios.
This reminded me of another snake in another garden. You see, a lot of times this is how I find my spiritual life. I'm oblivious to evil. But as Christians, it is important for us to be alert!
"Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. "
1 Peter 5:8-9a
In my own power, I could never defend myself from the devil, just as with my bare hands I would never handle that snake. Instead, the armor of God protects me and gives me weapons to not only defend myself but to fight offensively!
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests."
This is not to say that we should never enjoy our life or that we should be paranoid
But when we let our guard down, we are more likely to
give into lies
refuse forgiveness and harbor bitterness
miss glorious opportunities to love
So, I urge you, through the beautiful grace of God
put on the belt of truth and guard your integrity
put on the breastplate of righteousness and protect your heart
put on the shoes of the gospel and carry that life-defining story with you wherever you go
take up the shield of faith
put on the helmet of salvation, telling yourself daily the story of God's love for us
and bear the sword of the Spirit, utilizing the power of the Bible and the Holy Spirit
and remember that you're not alone.
"I have told you these things that you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
have a blessed weekend, y'all