They Do Come Back!

It was a sunny day at Solusi Mission, and the three boys were wandering around the mission dam, looking for anything that might catch the eye of young teenagers looking for adventure.

The dam was about a mile away from the mission station, and helped provide water for washing and bathing. They could hear the gasoline-powered pump rattling over in the old shed, sending the water up the hill and over to the storage tanks for later use. Since the dam lay in grey clay soil, the water kept the same color and never cleared. When you were in the bathtub it looked like you were cut off at water level as you couldn’t see anything below it!

Wayne shook his head at the thought that it was possible that a crab or minnow might have gotten sucked up by the pump and sent down the pipes to share the tub with you. It had never happened to him yet, but he had heard stories…

As they walked along, Eugene noticed that the ground he was walking on seemed a bit shaky and unstable. In fact, it seemed to be moving underneath him as he walked. Hoping it wasn’t quicksand, he stepped aside to take a closer look. Much to his surprise, he found that he had been standing on a coiled African rock python, just minding its own business there in the tall grass!

Fortunately, it was a younger member of the species, as this particular type of python can easily reach 12-15 feet in length as an adult and more than 100 pounds in weight. But for the boys, it was plenty big enough to be both exciting and threatening – just the kind of adventure they had been looking for!

The snake was not interested in being part of their afternoon activities, so started to slide off to a safer location in the grass and escape. But Eugene was having none of THAT and proceeded to grab the snake by the tail, dragging it towards a bare spot nearby. The snake objected to this treatment, and began striking with wide open jaws to discourage further capture. Now this was a bit TOO exciting, and Eugene let go of the snake in a hurry!

“Let’s throw stuff at it!” shouted Gary, matching his actions to his words. Picking up stones and chunks of wood, the boys rained down a storm of missiles on the python, who must have thought he was in the middle of a Kansas hailstorm. The boys continued throwing until the python expired and lay dead in the grass. Struggling with the weight, the boys managed to drag the snake over to one of the bicycles they had brought along, and wrapped it ‘round and ‘round the handlebars.

“OK, now let’s go show him to everybody!” Wayne grinned, and the three of them proudly set off, guiding the wobbly and heavy bike along the dirt roads towards home. Once they arrived at the mission, they made the rounds, displaying their trophy to everyone who might be interested.

Suddenly, Eugene had a great idea. “Hey, let’s give my dad a surprise when he gets back from teaching today. We’ll put the snake up on our front porch so when he walks up the steps, it’ll be there looking him right in the eyeballs!!!”

The boys cackled with laughter at this great prank, and quickly headed for Eugene’s house to carry out their plan. Coiling up the snake in a life-like pose with its head staring straight down the stairs, they quickly ran off to await Dad coming home to discover the surprise of an unexpected house guest.

And sure enough, Eugene’s dad DID receive a surprise. But not the one the boys had been expecting – because when Dad arrived, the snake was halfway off the porch and intent on escaping once more. The snake had only been stunned by the hail of missiles, and had recovered its senses while lying on the porch.

With a shout, Dad summoned everyone nearby and the boys rushed out of their hiding places with amazement. With Dad’s help, this time they dispatched the snake for good and then skinned it, JUST to be sure! Eight feet in length, Eugene and the boys kept the skin for over a year as a reminder of their adventure and narrow escape.

OK, now you’ve heard the story, and since every story has a lesson in it somewhere, here’s what I’ve learned. As kids and adults, we travel through life seeing what’s around the next corner, what might be showing on our screen, or the next new thing that our friends have to share. And since we’re humans, some of these adventures do seem exciting, even if a bit dangerous.

When repeated, these innocent-appearing adventures can slyly became that nasty little word, a habit. And habits, as we all know, can be hard to break once they get their teeth into us. We can work with all our might to throw Bible verses and our self-control at the habit and it may actually seem dead at last. But Satan never gives up, and just when you think you’ll never see it again, the old habit suddenly comes back to life, just as dangerous as it was before!

So keep in mind that the only thing that will finally end the habit for good is depending, just like the boys did, on their wise Father. For only He can finally, and permanently, break down the serpent. After all, that’s what He has promised through Jesus: “For He will crush your head…” Genesis 3:15

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