Lately, our life has been somewhat turned upside-down. As if it wasn’t enough to move to Uganda, God had even more in store for us as we arrived. Don’t get me wrong, we have loved this place. God has made this our home, and we feel we have contentment and confidence in God’s plan for our life. As of late, we have found our area of work and responsibility expanding. This has meant a lot of travel between two ministry locations for New Hope Uganda, and even an occasional trip to a third location.
This also means that our home at Musana Camps is frequently vacant. We never know what we might find when we finally come home. After staying at Kasana Children’s Center for two weeks, we returned to find our home mostly in order. After unpacking on a Sunday night, I returned to the office for work on Monday morning. I had only been at work for an hour or so when I received a panicked call from home. A snake was somewhere in the house.
The rainy season fully upon us, I was thankful to have driven the van so that I could get home quickly. I came around the corner to the veranda to find my wife staring at the doorway. Inside, through the screen door, I could see my children staring back toward the same door.
There, between the screen door and outer wooden door, was the snake. We’ve seen some amazing, I would dare say, beautiful snakes. My favorite snake so far has been the Jamison Mamba. The Jamison had a beautiful pattern in a dark and glossy green skin. Today, the snake was different than the green tree snakes, black mambas, and green mambas. This one was very short for the diameter of its body. The snake was only about 18” long, but must have been near 2” in diameter at the center. The body of snake became curiously small at the neck, where it slimmed down to just a half to three quarters of an inch. Then, the head. This snake had a HUGE head for how short, and how narrow its neck. The pattern on its back looked like the center stripe down a highway, and it had a repeating circle pattern along its body. The colors reminded me of a rattlesnake from home, with beige and black. This was certainly different than anything we’ve seen here.
We made pretty quick work of the snake. We have french doors out to the veranda, and the snake had managed to get itself stuck between the doors on one side. It was a simple thing to use a shovel handle to reach back to the snake and smash him against the corner. A few thrusts and he was dead. We pulled him out to take a closer look, and it really was incredible. We shared the pictures, consulted our Reptiles of East Africa book, and it didn’t take long to identify. This was the Gaboon Viper. Our house is home to two of the most deadly snakes in the world, and this is one of them. The Black Mamba is much faster, and much more aggressive. However, the Gaboon Viper has the highest venom output of any snake in the world, and its venom is lethal. When it bites, it is said that it doesn’t let go. It holds on, and continues to pump in its poison.
The Gaboon Viper doesn’t typically attack. It is said that the reported bites from this snake were caused by people who stumbled upon one accidentally, and literally stepped on the snake. We praise God, because that’s almost exactly what happened. Staci had opened the screen door to walk outside, and literally stepped directly over the snake. It was mid-stride that she realized something wasn’t right, so she reacted and leapt over the obstacle. It was only after this that the snake moved to its position between the doors. It’s not any stretch to say that Staci was a half-step from death. This viper was just a baby, but it is still just as deadly.
Genesis 4:7 speaks to our sin in similar terms. God tells Cain that sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for him, but he must master it. Isn’t this what happens to us? We get in our routine, we do the same things every day. We move in and out of that door, and we have no idea of the disaster that could be waiting for us. Staci didn’t have to pay attention anymore, she had no reason not to trust that the door was safe and clear. She had watched me walk through the same door to go to work just an hour earlier.
Sin is lurking, calling to us from everywhere. We grow accustomed to it, and we get lethargic. Little by little, through our ignorance, we allow the sin to get closer and closer. Eventually, that sin is just a half a step away, and a mistake could spell disaster.
I can tell you that this situation didn’t sit well with my wife. She went to every door of the house, every opening, and explored every hole, nook, and cranny. Where there is one snake, there may be others! She acted in defense of her own life, her family, her household. She was not going to sit idle with the possible threat.
Do we do this with sin? Are we repulsed by it? When we see it, do we respond, call for help, and seek to destroy it? Do we look for any sign of it, and defend our families from it? Do we protect our house, our children, and our spouses from sin? Think of how foolish it would have been for my wife to have seen the snake in the doorway, and to have turned her head to continue doing what she was doing!! What if she never called me, never even called attention to this monster at the door? What if she said to herself, “Well, we live in an area that has snakes, it’s just how it is. Another day in Africa.” No!! This is insane!
Instead, we normalize the sin. We say it’s okay, and its just going to be there. In fact, we tend to like the sin, we start to entertain it. We hide it in a dark corner and take it out to play when we think no one is looking. Eventually we could even draw attention, attracting fame for our snake charming abilities. We won’t mess around with the potential of physical death, we kill the snake! When it comes to spiritual matters, we are bold and careless.
Sin is certainly lurking at our door. Sin is the thing that could take us off the mission field. Sin could be the thing that destroys our marriage. Sin could be the thing the threatens our testimony. Sin could pull my kids from their young love for God. Sin could divide our family in so many ways.
God, help me to be the man that you intended me to be. God help me to be the steward of my garden and all that you have placed into my hands, not for my glory but for yours. God, would you equip me to lead as a man should lead. Help me to be the snake killer for my family. Help me to root out the sin of my children’s hearts, constantly calling them back to the perfect love that has been displayed to them through their father in heaven. I’ll never be enough for them, but God you are. Lord, lead me to be the defender of my wife. Draw us together in unity by helping us to expose the sin that crouches at the door even on this day. We are so easily led astray by our deceitful hearts, but by the truth of your word we can discern and choose today who we will follow.