Tuesday morning, just after sunrise, I was walking down a dirt road with our dog for our regular morning stroll when we came upon a juvenile copperhead snake slithering across the street. It is quite common to see the distinct imprint of a snake crossing when we are out walking, but it is unusual to actually see the snake, especially first thing in the morning after a gentle rain. Thankful that we had seen the snake in time to adjust our stride and give it room, we continued with our walk.
Shortly afterwards, as I approached the church, I looked up to see if the rays of the rising sun had reached the point where they would shine upon the cross at the top of the steeple. In my upward gaze, I noticed that a rainbow had formed in the western sky thanks to the combination of the earlier mist and the rising sun. Rainbows at sunrise are not a common sight for me while walking the dog, so I took in that view with gratitude.
In the Book of Genesis, we are first introduced to evil in the form of a serpent, and mankind has been on the lookout for snakes ever since. Also in the Book of Genesis we are introduced to the rainbow, which represents a promise from God to never again bring forth a flood that would destroy the earth. One is a threat, the other a promise of protection. And there on my walk, as I looked down towards the earth I saw the threat, but later as I looked up to the heavens, I saw the promise of protection.
It is said of the church body that we are to live in the world but not be citizens of it. This arrangement means that we are subject to the conditions and threats that are present in this world. We need to keep an eye towards the ground, so that we can discern where to step and how to proceed, but if we only keep our gaze fixed downward, we will ultimately fill ourselves with concern for the things of the Earth. The fears and other worldly concerns will take over our thoughts, and we begin acting as if this is our home.
It is when we look up to the heavens and see the majesty of God that we see our true purpose and are reminded of our true citizenry. Being inspired by God’s holiness, we then view the things in this world (and on the ground slithering in front of us) with a proper perspective. We need to see the dangers and snares in front of us, but if it is God who has sent us down the path, we need to believe that God will guide our steps so that we can get past these concerns and reach our appointed destination.
As you walk your path today, keep an eye out for the snakes that might cross your path. But never forget to gaze upwards towards our Creator, for He has made a promise to you that should strengthen you in the face of whatever this world puts in your way.
Peace and blessings – Pastor Aaron