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A Snake in the Grass

Kristina and I flew to California in April for my mother’s 90th birthday. Our luggage never got off the flight, so our first day in Marin started with frustration. I was scheduled to speak at the San Rafael Open Door Church that Sunday. They had asked me to speak about the faith of Enoch from Hebrews 11. That afternoon, I decided to take a walk in the open space so I could practice what I was going to preach.

The scriptures say Enoch walked with God. He was a man who pleased God, not because of great exploits, but because he took time to walk with God on a regular basis. I love the simplicity of Enoch’s life with God. He didn’t have to do something spectacular, but his consistent walk with God made their relationship special.

I put my Bible, a water bottle, and a towel in the backpack I had carried off the plane, and drove to a trailhead near my mother’s house. I grew up in Terra Linda and spent many days in the surrounding hills. Oak trees and wildflowers are sprinkled on the hillsides. Tall grasses provide cover for rabbits, mice and squirrels. My friends and I used to hike, hunt, and cardboard slide down these hills. Now they are preserved as open space. There are hiking trails and many good spots to sit and talk with the Lord.

As I started up the trail, I wanted to shake off the frustrations of travel and our misplaced luggage. I started thinking about my upcoming sermon and said a simple prayer out loud, “Lord I want to walk with you.”

I looked down at the trail as I prayed, and saw a huge brown snake right in front of me. I jumped back instinctively with my heart pounding. It looked like a rattlesnake. I gradually moved closer to get a better look at it. It had the coloring of a rattlesnake, but it was harmless. I walked around the snake, and continued up the trail.

I began to think about the challenge of walking with God. I had originally hoped to have a couple of hours of peace and quiet to spend with the Lord before we got together with our family in Marin that evening. One thing led to another and my best intentions were challenged. Instead of a refreshing day of spiritual growth, I had a day with unexpected complications. That is pretty typical for most of us.

One reason it is hard to walk with God is because spiritual serpents disrupt our plans. We have battles with unseen spiritual forces that make it difficult for us to be consistent in seeking God’s kingdom. Walking with God is pleasing to Him because we have overcome these serpents in order to spend time with God. To draw near to the Lord every day means we have to navigate past the serpents and through the swamps that distract us. Following Jesus is not rocket science, but it’s challenging. He said, “In the world you will have trouble, but be encouraged, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Our relationship with God is based on love, because God is love. As we walk and talk with God, our love for Him grows. God’s Spirit teaches and comforts us as we seek Him. In time, we get to know Him as our Father in Heaven. Those who love God don’t need to be told to pray, because prayer is the language of love in their relationship.

I was thankful when our bags were finally delivered. By then I had met with the Lord, my soul was at rest, and the day had been redeemed. Enoch’s reward was an escape from death, and a friendship with God. Jesus gives His disciples an escape from death, but friendship with God is a relationship we chose to develop, or ignore, every day.

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