I’ll never forget the summers I had as a child growing up in the hills of Appalachia. I was always sweaty, dirty, and ecstatically happy. Childhood summer days are especially long and wonderful, and always require a breezy outdoor nap post-popsicle or watermelon wedge. Other summer musts include: developing immunity to poison ivy and having legs decorated in countless chigger-bites. We were wild and fearless until one warning will stop and bring intense caution to every hillbilly child: the smell of cucumbers.
If only every danger in life was so apparent, and we were so quick to heed its warnings. Life as an adult is either much trickier, or we are just far too easily deceived. For those of you without a little country wisdom: the smell of cucumbers is emitted when a copperhead snake feels threatened (such as when a rambunctious child is running about its territory). Today, I’m rarely in danger of a poisonous snake bite, but I (we) live amongst a multitude of metaphorical/spiritual carnivores that roam about the earth, seeking to devour.
The serpent’s craftiness is well known in the story of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:1, suggested reading verses 1-5), and he (Satan) has only become more artful in his schemes. For instance, Paul warns us that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), and in today’s world that may be best illustrated in the perversion of tolerance and love. Each of these, tolerance and love, are good and appropriate in and of themselves, but what Satan seeks to do is to devour all which is good and of God. If Satan may mislead us into misconstruing God’s Word by the application of partial truths, acceptance of mistruths, the blending of the Gospel with social norms, and division of a work of completeness, then we are adhering to the destructive preaching of false teachers (Matthew 7:15, 2 Peter 2:1-3).
To me, one of the most chilling verses of the Bible is when God asks Satan where he has been and Satan’s response is “roaming the earth and walking on it,” (Job 1:7). Satan is here, and though he has already been defeated, he still seeks to destroy (Galatians 1:4, 1 Peter 5:8). The smell of cucumbers is but a faint odor compared to the reeking stink of sin’s death, yet we can become too familiar with some smells to be cognizant of them. I remember when I became too accustom to my longtime favorite fragrance for it to bring satisfaction when sprayed. In the same sense, we have grown too familiar to some sins for their distinction.
When looking for an object and missing its obviousness, my mother used to say the common idiom, “If it was a snake, it would’ve bitten me!” May we not be so off guard as to the snakes in this world. Being armed with the truth that comes from knowing God’s Word is our best defense (Ephesians 6:11, suggested reading Ephesians 6:10-20). “Lord, do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil,” (Matthew 6:13).
- Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” Genesis 3:1 NIV
- No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.2 Corinthians 11:14 NASB
- [Jesus said] “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” Matthew 7:15 NASB
- But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, and will bring swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their unrestrained ways, and the way of truth will be blasphemed because of them. They will exploit you in their greed with deceptive words. Their condemnation, pronounced long ago, is not idle, and their destruction does not sleep. 2 Peter 2:1-3
- The LORD said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.” Job 1:7 NASB
- “[Jesus] who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,” Galatians 1:4 NIV
- Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 NIV
- Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. Ephesians 6:11 NIV
*Picture of my father, Jody, Spring 2016.