Man, I really miss my Grandma.

Grandma was a woman of the Old World. Born in America, mind you, but not of the modern age. She was born in the hills of Appalachia in the early 1900s, to a family that we could trace back to the early 1700s in her small Pennsylvania town. Somehow, her family found its way to rural, coal-mining southern Illinois, where she met and married my grandpa and finally settled down.

In her 84+ years, she never got a driver’s license. She lived in a house that had no running water, central heat or air conditioning until she was over 70. I’ll never forget the smell of coal burning in the fireplace instead of firewood. In the golden days of Crisco, Grandma cooked with lard. You hear that, Mrs. Obama? Lard. No one ever ate so good as us grandkids when we went to Grandma’s for fried chicken. And the water from the well outside the kitchen? People pay millions  of dollars each year for bottled water that doesn’t taste half as good as the water from that well.

When I was a kid, my Grandma and Grandpa’s little four-room house sat about a third of a mile back from a county road, just a stone’s throw from places with names like Gobbler’s Knob, Eagle Creek, Pound’s Hollow, and Cave-in-Rock. They didn’t have many visitors, so their long, gently sloping driveway was visible, if not a little overgrown. And it was down that driveway Grandma would walk, day in and day out, to retrieve the mail from the box at the end of the drive.

Some other notable residents of their little piece of southern Illinois were rattlesnakes.  Lots of rattlesnakes. So to make sure she didn’t have to entertain any unwanted reptilian guests during her walk to the mailbox, Grandma would – without fail – take along her snake stick. What is a “snake stick?” Well, it’s a stick that’s between 4-5 feet long, about the thickness of a pool cue at its thickest part. It was basically a tree branch, with a small “Y” fashioned in the end where the main branch had separated into two smaller branches. The smaller branches forming the “Y” were trimmed down to about 2-3 inches long.

You see, Grandma was not just Old World, but old-school smart. She knew that she wasn’t quick enough to kill a rattler with a stick, so she didn’t carry a “snake spear.” And she probably wasn’t a good enough shot to kill a rattlesnake, so she didn’t carry a gun. But with her snake stick, she could at least pin the head of the snake to the ground until she could safely walk by, and then release it.

Most of us don’t live in a forest infested with poisonous snakes, but to be sure, we all deal with “snakes” in our lives. They just take different forms. The most dangerous snakes are the “slings and arrows” of temptation and sin that Satan and his demons send our way every day. Thankfully, through Jesus Christ, God has provided our “snake stick” for daily living through his Word and the Holy Spirit. If fact, the Bible says that God provides the believer with an entire spiritual suit of armor, if the believer will just use it.

So don’t even start your day without your “snake stick.” Meet with God in the morning, hear from Him through his Word, and invite the Holy Spirit into your day. Because you’re going to run into some snakes today.



2 thoughts on “The Snake Stick

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