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Article Archive >> Community

Points to Ponder: Thank God for Rattlesnakes

Points to Ponder
Thank God for Rattlesnakes

What does it take to drive some people to their knees? Sometimes a good rattlesnake will do the trick.
Here's a true story to ponder.
Reverend Robert Sheffey (1820-1902) was a powerful man of prayer who spread the gospel throughout the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwest Virginia. One day he met up with a family with a desperate need. A young man had been bitten by a rattlesnake. Spotting Brother Sheffey riding by, his father sent his youngest boy to bring him to the scene. Fearing his son would die, the father was counting on Sheffey's reputation for powerful and effective prayer. So he said, "Reverend Sheffey, call upon the Lord so my boy will live."
Sheffey did not recognize the man nor his family and so he inquired as to whether any of them, father or mother or children, had ever called upon the name of the Lord. "No, I guess not. There's - there's three boys and us," the father said, hanging his head. But now, they needed God.
So Sheffey knelt on his sheepskin beside the wounded man, and the family bowed for prayer. And here is what he prayed.
"Oh Lord, please bring Thy healing to this young man, and Lord in the same breath thank Thee for snakes and pray that there be many of them. It is because of a snake that this family calls upon Thy holy name today. One of the sons has been bitten, and they called upon Thee. Now, Lord, get the picture: except for the snake they would perhaps never in their lifetimes have turned to Thee. What a blessing this lowly, crawling thing has been! Lord, I want you to send lots of snakes. Send another one to bite the youngest boy here, and send still another to bite this woman who never had her boys kneel by her chair, that they might hear the prayers of their mother. And, Lord, above all things, send a great big rattler, a really large one, to bite the old man so that he may call upon Thy name fervently and much." (Story taken from "Saint of the Wilderness" by Jess Carr, p.316-317)
Except for snakes in life, some people would never call upon the name of the Lord. It is a sad thing to come upon a person or family who has been struck by disaster and they do not know the Person to Whom they can pray. Sometimes it takes a crisis to get a soul's attention.
Chuck Swindoll told a story of a young boy saying his prayers with his dad before bed. He prayed, "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. And if I wake before I die..." oops. (It was supposed to be, "...If I die before I wake.") But his dad saw a truth there in the reversal of words. He told his boy that was the first time that classic prayer had been said correctly.
If I wake before I die...Sometimes a life-altering disaster or life-threatening crisis is what it takes to wake some people up. Sometimes the only thing that will break our hell-bent pride is a painful reminder of our mortality.
What will it take for some of our loved ones and neighbors - and for some of US - to be brought to our knees? Perhaps it is time to pray for the rattlesnakes.
Sometimes it takes facing death to really grasp the meaning of life. Some people need to "Wake Up" before they die. And facing the crisis of our mortality - the brevity of life, can do that.
Has your rattlesnake bit you yet? Thank God for the rattlesnake, that we may "call upon Thy name fervently and much." Amen.

This column can be found on the web at: www.fumcl.org. Pastor Whitmore is not affiliated with Picket News, nor does he submit material directly to our publication. We regularly reprint interesting articles found at his public web site and encourage all readers to visit for similar material.

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