To my dear grandchildren
At the Count of Three . . .
We were two little girls full of fun and foolishness, that day many years ago when Mother sent us to the spring for a pail of water. The dirt around the spring had been dug out about four feet deep to make a pond from the spring water, and then it was lined with smooth stones. The water level was down about two feet, but it was still about two feet deep.
We had been acting silly, as I carelessly stooped to fill the pail. Oops! . . . Slipped!
After my big splash, I looked up expecting to see my sister's laughing face. Instead, I saw a huge diamondback rattlesnake slithering up on the rocks just a few feet from me. He had come for a drink, too, and maybe wasn't too pleased that I was there. I knew that I must stay just as still as possible, and also that I could never get past that snake. In a quiet voice I told my sister about the rattlesnake and said, "Go get Mother."
It was only a matter of minutes until the two of them came up quietly. Mother had Dad's double-barreled shotgun. Speaking softly, my normally timid mother cooly and firmly gave me instructions: "At the count of three, drop flat into the water and stay down until I pull you up."
I knew that I must obey exactly. My eyes tightly shut, heart pounding, I heard the clicks as she cocked the old gun.
"One, two, three!"
Believe me, I dived as flat to the bottom of those two two feet of water as possible.
Even underwater the boom from that shotgun was deafening. I was sure that the whole pool also had been blown up! Mother wasted no time grabbing me up in her arms. There wasn't much left of that snake!
What a mercy God showed to me that day! A strike in the face from that huge poisonous snake might well have meant death to a small child like me. I had been so careless - so foolish not to watch for danger when we knew there were poisonous snakes around.
The "old serpent," as the Bible calls the devil, quietly came onto the scene in the very first chapter of Genesis, and he is still in the world today. He is the smartest, most deadly enemy of all. Many boys and girls and men and women go along being deceived by him, living only to find and follow fun when suddenly, as as I did, they come face to face with the "king of terrors." Death is that"King of terrors" (Job 18:14). "The sting of death is sin,"we read in 1 Corinthians 15:56. God says, "It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27).
Here is that terrible "sting" - judgment for all those sins you and I have done. (Would you dare say, "I have never sinned"?) God, however, loves us and is not willing for us to come to the point of judgment. There is hope. "Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many" (Hebrews 9:28). He bore the punishment, so that in Hebrews 8:12 God can say,"Their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more." You can be one of the "many" whose sins He suffered for if you will receive the message by faith, believing that He suffered for your sins.
As God held back the strike of death for me that day long ago, so also He is still holding back the day of judgment for you, so that you might be rescued from sin and the devil. Follow God's instructions: "Believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life" (1 John 5:13). Don't fool around. God expects and honours the sincere, urgent cry to Him.