The Path of Life Holds Hidden Dangers

©Joy Dunlap

While walking on a peaceful trail this week, I came close to stepping on a snake. A poisonous one.

That unexpected sighting brought me to a full stop!

Only a few steps further…and I would have inadvertently put my foot right on its slowly slithering, reptilian body. Something neither one of us would have liked. Only one of us would have ended up needing medical care though.

Mere moments before, I walked carefree on the cleared trail surrounded by lovely, leafy trees. Unconcerned about predators or venomous snakes, I strode purposefully with a time goal, overlooking much of the beauty – and what could bite me.

I’m thankful for God’s nudge that allowed me to spot the copperhead in time to avoid stepping on it and antagonizing it.

Let’s consider a few points as we walk on trails – and on the path of life.

Watch where we walk.

Hidden dangers lurk in lush lands of plenty – even in areas where pockets of peace may exist. If we’ve walked a path before, even frequently, it’s important to stay aware, not only for the dangers, but also for the delight we may miss if we’re not in the moment.

Not too many weeks ago, a friend pointed out multiple poison ivy plants along the trail’s edge that I’d failed to notice.

Since I’ve walked this path many times had I become too confident, too complacent? Less observant of seeing dangers that were camouflaged or hidden or even in plain sight?

Life is full of pitfalls, temptations, and, yes, even vipers that can cause us ill will.

Let’s watch closely for them so we can be spared from emotional and spiritual injury that can be avoided. Although our path may seem routine at times, asking God daily for protection and insight for our journey puts our trust in the One who best knows the walk we’re on.

Walk with Someone

When I looked in front and behind me to see what runners or walkers to warn, I saw no one. No intense runners with earpods listening to podcasts or music. No couples pushing baby strollers. No families with small children darting about on the trail and scampering into the woods. No laughing group of friends out enjoying the day together.

When I spotted the copperhead, I was on the phone with a friend who at least would know my general location. In hindsight though, I’d have been better off staying on the phone with her until I’d cleared the snake. On the other side of the trail, my husband was jogging so at least we were in the area together. And, I had my phone with me for quick access.

In life, it’s important to walk the journey with someone who cares enough to warn us about potential dangers and to provide help when we need it. A faith-filled friend to call when we’re faced with danger or a potentially poisonous experience can make a real difference.

Beware of Hidden Dangers

Camouflaged by its coloring and the shadows cast on the ground by the trees, the copperhead almost escaped my sight until I was only steps away.

Spotting the telltale shapes of melting Hershey kisses along its body, I immediately halted, certain it was venomous. It’s ironic that the shape of a candy that tastes so good serves as an identifier for a snake that’s deadly.

Much can cross our path that can be potentially poisonous. Often it wears camouflage of its own, many times in an enticing way. The serpent in the garden of Eden with Eve shows us that. The desire to be in the know, to uncover secrets, to choose a plan other than what God designed still appeals.

Negative comments and agitating on social media, sensational news coverage, and gossip threaten to woo us into a steady appetite of conflict and churn. Sometimes the impact causes us to speak and act in ways outside how we would normally walk in the way of love. Like a snake with its venom, the world’s dangers can infect us with a poison that flows through us if we don’t watch out.

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  (Jesus) Matthew 26:41 NIV

  • What encounter have you had with a dangerous reptile or animal?
  • In what ways can you make sure to be more watchful and less complacent in your faith walk?
  • How can a Christian friend help you avoid some potentially poisonous encounters in life?
  • What’s potentially threatening to your growth as a Christian right now?  Which steps can you take today to defeat or overcome that?

When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who watch over my way. In the path where I walk people have hidden a snare for me.  Psalm 142:3 NIV

Rescue me, Lord, from evildoers; protect me from the violent, who devise evil plans in their hearts and stir up war every day. They make their tongues as sharp as a serpent’s; the poison of vipers is on their lips. Keep me safe, Lord, from the hands of the wicked; protect me from the violent, who devise ways to trip my feet. Psalm 140: 1-4 NIV

Remember…Life Is Better When It’s Full – Joy-full, Thank-full, Purpose-full and Friend-full!

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