Tuesday, March 17, 2015

No Snakes in Ireland

Happy St. Patrick's Day, 1,554 years after the death of a man responsible for ridding an entire country of that sly creature, the snake.  This myth probably originated when the Patron Saint of Ireland converted thousands of Emerald Island pagans to Christianity.  Actual snakes were never in Ireland, thanks to an impassable barrier.

The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden? Genesis 3:1 NLT

Eden had a particular serpent, an early snake, which we often refer to as the tempter or the deceiver. Genesis tells us he was shrewd: clever, smart and perceptive.  The synonym that makes me shutter the most is perceptive.  He's the ultimate stalker: observing, watching, learning, and anticipating.
Satan is waiting for the perfect time and the right environment, which brings me back to why there are no snakes in Ireland.  National Geographic.com blames the ice age.  Some animals from Britain reached Ireland before the sea became an impassible barrier, but "snakes never made it."  Mark Ryan, director of the Louisiana Poison Center agrees that the timing wasn't right for the sensitive cold-blooded reptiles to expand their range. "There are no snakes in Ireland for the simple reason they couldn't get there because the climate wasn't favorable for them to be there."
The timing wasn't right. The climate wasn't favorable.  Yes, Satan is constantly observing life, anticipating the right time, and anxiously waiting for the heart's climate to be favorable.  What are those favorable conditions? When I'm acting like a little devil? When I'm doing my own thing regardless of God's plan? Probably. Satan gladly shows up when I invite him for a walk. He'll take any condition I'll give him.  However, the scariest thing about the great deceiver is that he observes me and is the most interested in my own Emerald Island when I think he couldn't possibly reach me. A favorable condition for him is when I think I've done this great job of creating a barrier he cannot cross. I'm perfect prey when I'm sure he's no where in sight.
According to Pet Source, the most likely reason non-venomous snakes bite is simply because they are afraid. When given the choice between biting at you (the 5-6 foot tall giant that just stepped into its territory) or running away as fast as it can possibly slither...it will choose running away every time. If the snake however, feels cornered, or for whatever reason unable to hide, it will strike out at you.

When he's afraid.  When in the world is Satan ever afraid? There's only One he's afraid of, and it isn't me.  Or, at least, it isn't me alone.  Satan is afraid of his ultimate enemy, God, and will strike me when he perceives the Holy Spirit is present. 

So, Christ told us to stay one step ahead.
Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. Matthew 10:16  NLT

To fight Satan, we need to be equally as shrewd.  Another synonym for shrewd is Perspicacious -having a ready insight into and understanding of things, having keen mental perception and understanding; discerning.

St. Patrick didn't drive out actual snakes, and unfortunately, we'll never be rid of the shrewdest creature on earth. 

We're human, so of course, Satan is going to out-smart us at times.  But, like Ireland, we need impassable barriers. We need keen mental perception. Satan knows exactly what pulls me away from God.  If I also know, I stay one step ahead.  We cannot battle Satan alone. He's constantly looking for ways to sneak into our protected green grasses.  We need the One who will crush his shrewd head.  We need His Word for understanding and discernment. We need the wisdom of other intuitive and observant Christ followers. 

When is Satan most interested in you? What are your impassable barriers?

Happy St. Patrick's Day!