The Year of the Snake

When I was a child, my Mom sometimes bought canned Chop Suey, which she heated and poured over chow mein noodles. I liked the chow mein noodles, but the Chop Suey was full of unidentified “things” and it was not very tasty or appealing to me. For years and years I avoided Chinese food because of Chop Suey. When I married EJ and we went to a Chinese restaurant (he LIKED Chinese food), I ordered as American as I could–even to ordering a hamburger and fries if the restaurant had them. EJ was appalled. However, to me Chinese food = canned Chop Suey. Yuck.

When JJ was in Kindergarten, we studied China. One of the benefits of homeschooling is that you just don’t read about things in books, you can actually find ways to experience them. So we took JJ to a Chinese restaurant so he could taste Chinese food. In my opinion, I cannot ask my son to eat strange foreign food when I’m not willing to do the same. If I turned my nose up at it, he might not want to try it. I figured that I could endure Chinese food one time for JJ’s sake. So I chose a selection of food at the buffet, took a bite….and my world opened up with new taste  sensations. Oh, wow, it was so utterly delicious! This was NOT canned Chop Suey! Chinese food has become my absolute favorite type of food, and if I get to choose the restaurant we go to, I choose Chinese, and then I stuff and stuff myself at the buffet table, and I have to be rolled home. YUM!

At every Chinese restaurant, there are placemats with the Chinese zodiac printed on them. You know, the Year of the Horse, Monkey, Rat…I do not believe in such things, of course, but they are sort of fun to read. I am the Tiger, EJ is a Dragon, and JJ is the Pig/Boar. I have fun telling JJ, when he brings back another filled plate from the buffet, “you are such a PIG.”

This post is NOT about Chinese food or the Chinese zodiac printed on placemats. I only mentioned it because the Chinese have a Year of the Snake, and the title I chose for this post reminded me of these things. Actually this post is about Matthew 10:16:

“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”

I never really knew what “be wise as serpents” meant because when I think of serpents, I think of the serpent in the Garden of Eden who deceived Adam and Eve into sinning against God and brought death, sin, and misery into the world. I think of “You speak with forked tongue” and  Satan and deception and evil. I think of rattlesnakes and other poisonous snakes. So what did Jesus mean when He told us to be like serpents? Surely He didn’t mean we were to be DECEPTIVE?

I follow a blog called Little Guy in the Eye. The blog has Daily Tidbits about Hebrew, and a couple of days ago Little Guy had a post about Matthew 10:16. He explained that

Snakes shed their skin based upon their maturity.  Young snakes, as they grow, can shed their skin every few weeks.  Maturing snakes shed their skins every few months, and a fully mature snake sheds its skin about once a year…We must examine ourselves AT LEAST once a year and shed our skins (errors, sins, false beliefs) in order for the living flesh to grow and mature….

I strongly encourage you to read the whole article at Little Guy in the EyeThere is a lot more there about snakes and how we are to be like them.

Little Guy in the Eye’s explanation about snakes is what I have strongly believed for years. Too often people hold on to things because it’s what they were taught, or because “we always done it that way,” or because they are comfortable with it, or it’s scary and painful to change. However, I believe that we must be willing to pursue TRUTH, and to let go of pet beliefs if they are not true. We must line up our beliefs to the TRUTH and not try to make TRUTH fit our beliefs. We must face TRUTH and let it change us no matter how painful or difficult. It is only in knowing TRUTH that we will be set free.

Little Guy in the Eye wrote that a snake cannot grow and might even die if the past year’s skin is not shed. So I pray that this will be a Year of the Snake for all of us, that we would be willing to shed the skins of sins, false beliefs, wrong attitudes, and wrong living and grow into more TRUTH. I pray we’d be “wise as serpents.”

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