It was a warm afternoon in Virginia, that I experienced one of the most terrifying moments of my life. I only share this story to bring glory to the Lord Jesus Christ, my deliverer!
It was a typical Thursday, our family day, and we had several things to take care of together. On this day, our family had well-child checkups for Laura and Juliana, a couple of errands to run, then one last stop at the orthodontist’s office for a quick checkup for Sophia. The littlest ones had fallen asleep; so as we pulled in the parking lot, I suggested that we drive over to a shady area just a little past the office. This allowed us to turn the van off and stay cooler in the shade (not knowing how long Sophia’s appointment would take). As soon as Brad turned off the van, the two sleeping children “woke up” (by the sovereign hand of God). They were more than delighted to go with Brad into the office with the older ones, Olivia, Sophia, and Stephen. Only the toddler, Laura, and the baby, Juliana were left with me.
Laura proceeded to wake up, so I thought I’d go to the back of the van, pull out our big “car blanket” and have a little fun with my two youngest children while we waited for Brad and the other five children to return. I changed Laura’s diaper and sat her back up to play “peek-a-boo” or anything to keep her entertained for awhile. Juliana lay in her car seat on the blanket, cooing and smiling.
While I was sitting with my back to the van with Laura facing me (she was facing the van), Laura pointed at something and said, “Momma, look!” I turned around to see what she was pointing at, and to my complete shock I found myself looking at a very large Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake coiled up next to the exhaust pipe at the back of the van (where I had just pulled out the blanket minutes earlier), 4-5 feet from where we were sitting.
My heart began racing. I did not hear the rattle; but I knew that any sudden movement could cause the snake to strike me or one of the children. In that surreal moment, as my heart was pounding out of control, I did what I’ve known only to do in times of trouble . . . pray! With my lips quivering from fear, I called quietly and fervently upon the Lord my God to deliver me from evil. As I kept praying, the snake was still, but it kept its head up, staring at me.
I then proceeded to slowly maneuver around to the other side of the vehicle to let Laura and Juliana back into the van to safety. The snake had now moved underneath the van (that’s when I discovered how big it was!), but I never stopped praying in the Spirit for a second! Next, I myself got into the van.
It was just then that I heard Ava and Susanna running out of the office, happily yelling, “Mommy, we’re done!” I stuck my head out of the window and firmly said, “Stop!” I motioned to Brad to get in front of the children. Brad was able to see the last of the snake slither back into the woods, and he caught a good glimpse of how thick the snake was, as well as the precise shape of the diamonds on its back (which helped us identify the snake on the Internet a couple days later).
Brad then safely got the other children into the van, and my “encounter with the snake” was over. My calm composure broke as I realized the danger that we had just had to face and I burst out crying from relief and the knowledge that God had delivered me and our children from what could have been a potentially debilitating or even fatal situation. We learned later that these rattlesnakes, if frightened, can strike up to 1/3 of their body length. We were within seconds of striking distance. And the fact that it was behind my back, I would have never seen it. But God saw it, and used my two-year old to see what I couldn’t see and make me aware of the danger.
I write this to bring glory to the Lord and to encourage you to live a life of prayer. It’s in those terrifying moments, when the enemy is closing in, that you can rest in the everlasting arms and ark of protection, defending you in your time of helplessness. Pray not only for your children’s protection, but that God could even use your little ones (Laura is only two years old) to be filled with wisdom to discern evil and danger even at a very young age.
As Brad and I were reflecting that evening, we sensed that the snake was symbolic of Satan, whose purpose in that situation was to bring fear and intimidation to our calling. However, we will not be discouraged—we will press forward in love and service to the ministry God has called us to.
As I tucked Ava and Susanna in bed that evening, Ava, our five-year-old asked me, “Mommy, what do angels look like?” I responded by telling her that angels are huge celestial beings created by God, who worship our God and are used by God to come to our aid in times of trouble. Susanna, my three-year-old, then chimed in, “So, God sent a big angel and said to the snake, ‘Snake, you go away!’”
I assured the girls that we can always rely on God and that we can ask for help and He will hear us. We can believe that the word of God is true. The following passage in Psalm 91 is powerful. I hope it encourages you to trust him in every circumstance. I share these words from Psalm 91:
No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;
For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.
In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.
You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot. . . . .
He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him and honor him.Psalm 91:9-13,15 (NKJV)
To God be the glory!