copperhead under the trash

Do you Worry about What Might Happen?

So, my husband moved the big trash container outside, you know the move-once-a-week hunker on wheels? It’s a job he accomplishes without thinking much about what might or could happen. Well, guess what was underneath?

I believe the analogies of finding a copperhead snake coiled under the trashcan are unlimited.

A jungle-man of missionary-offspring with a heavy boot should be deemed as a hero, and the brave act of killing a poisonous snake hailed throughout the family tree. However, when said Tarzan proudly holds the dead yet still twitching snake by its tail to show his wife, (rather like a dog or cat shows off its prey) some of those lovely analogies get lost in translation.

They simply cannot be heard above the visceral reaction.

We had completely different takes on the same story.

Last week I read the Biblical account of the spies sent into Canaan from Numbers 13-14. You probably have read it, but I hope you will again, this time taking note of how greatly differing viewpoints affected those who heard the report.

All twelve men, leaders in Israel, saw the same things with their eyes. For forty days their hands touched the same things, their ears heard the same sounds, their mouths tasted the same foods.

But what they perceived contradicted one other. Ten of the spies reported from unbelief, slanting what they saw, lacing it with deceit and defeat.

The land “devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature…and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight,” they whined. (Numbers 13:32-33 NKJV)

Two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, viewed Canaan with confidence. They believed that God’s victory awaited. They refused to let a thick minestrone of fear and anxiety invade truth. They had faith in God. They believed Him not only able to do what He had promised but also trusted Him to be waiting and willing to accomplish it.

“Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.” (Numbers 13:30 NKJV)

Some, obviously in the throes of “what could happen syndrome,” swayed the people away from God and replaced Him with fear.

“We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.” (Numbers 13:31 NKJV)

Opposite responses. One saturated with inward emotional refuse, one with simple faith.     

Despite giants and fortressed cities, two men focused their trust on a very big God and He dwarfed all other emotions and excuses.

“The Lord will bring us into this land and give it to us…Don’t rebel against Him, or fear the people…The Lord is with us. Do not fear them. ” Joshua and Caleb encouraged. ( Numbers 14:7-10)Despite giants and fortressed cities, two men focused their trust on a very big God and He dwarfed all other emotions and excuses. Share on X

We are like these spies, aren’t we?

Sometimes nothing seems to deter us from following God’s path. We move forward boldly, and see clearly how great God is, even when giants line the path, and though fortressed obstacles rise ahead.

Other times, we allow feelings, past experience, doubt and what-could-happen cloud our vision. Fretful hearts brew fear, rebellion, lethargy, and anxiety. Truth becomes tainted.

But, like trash rotting in the heat of summer something worse lies underneath. The author of Hebrews tells us, But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6 NKJV)

The underlying reason the Israelites did not enter the promised land was unbelief. (Hebrews 3:19) They viewed everything through lenses tarnished by not trusting God.

There are hints of a Garden hiss in the experience.

“Did God really say that?”

“Surely He didn’t mean it like that.”

“He will not do what He says.” (Genesis 3)

The snake goes where it’s most comfortable and welcome. The copperhead under the trashcan found refuge in a dark cool spot. With the trash removed, he became exposed. When light found him, he made a beeline for another concealed spot. Thankfully, my jungle man did not give him another opportunity to hide.

We are in a spiritual war. Right and wrong, obedience and disobedience, good and evil battle.

“What-could-happen” and “what-ifs” all belong, through faith, to Him.

Had the Israelites obeyed God, there still would have been testings and trials. Life and the consequences of a snake in the Garden would have entered the land with them. But they would have gone in trust, and God would have shown Himself mighty and merciful throughout every difficulty. And this is true victory.

“Therefore submit to God,” James wrote. “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7 NKJV)

And that is how to deal with the snake under the trash can.


*Feature photo by Philip Schroeder

14 Replies

  1. Lloyd & Sue Vogt Reply

    Happy 50th Anniversary!🎈

  2. Don Pahl Reply

    What a great lesson: Trust Changes Perception!!

    Thanks, Tarzan and Jane! 😁

  3. Larry Reply

    Sylvia.. congrats on 50…
    FYI.. a rattlesnakes fangs can still be deadly even after death. Poison stays on the fangs and if we rub the tips…

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Yes, Larry, I was pretty freaked out about that. He hosed down everything in sight!

  4. Dan Gallagher Reply

    We are close to our 49th anniversary (with Jane). She took me to Normandy for my just celebrated 70th. I am her Tarzan

  5. Candyce Carden Reply

    Not a pleasant event for sure, but it illustrates the rotten things that can happen when we focus on the “what ifs” rather than our Savior.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thanks Candyce! I am guilty of focusing on the what if’s far too often. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and respond.

  6. Katherine Pasour Reply

    I shuddered when I saw the picture. As a farm girl, I’m used to snakes, but copperheads make me cringe. Now I’m going to be extra careful when I move the trash can. Your analogy of conflicting views of the same circumstances is right on target. We experience that so often–a family disagreement, a news report, or a traffic accident, etc. Your reminder that it all belongs to God is timely–He is truth. (However, I’m still going to be careful when I move the trash can–God gave us vision for a reason).

  7. Sylvia Schroeder Reply

    Thanks Katherine! Trust me, I go to the trash with trepidation! Thanks for the reminder of where truth belongs!

  8. Nancy Ruegg Reply

    Wonderful, memorable analogy, Sylvia–thank you. I pray to focus my trust on my very big God!

  9. Antonella Cremonini Reply

    Io sono purtroppo una donna del tipo “e se…”, ma il Signore, con immensa pazienza, ogni volta mi conferma che i “se” sono solo suoi.
    Congratulazioni per l’anniversario! Noi a dicembre abbiamo festeggiato i 40!

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Che bello sentire da te! Anch’io sono quel tipo!! Il Signore e’ paziente anche con me, e sempre buono. Grazie Antonella!