The Trouble With Snakes

by Sheri Schofield

It was time to sell the house. The market was moving quickly and my husband felt we could make a good profit if we got in on the boom. We lived in a quiet neighborhood next to a wetland full of wild iris, willows, a seasonal pond, and lots of wildlife in Washington State. It was an ideal place to raise our two children.

Drew, a lively third grader, was always catching little creatures in the swamp. One afternoon he came racing into the house with a bucket. “Mom! Mom! Look what I’ve caught!”

I peered over the rim to see four black water snakes. “Can I keep them?” Drew begged.

“NO!” I said quickly. “They will escape!”

My husband Tim said, “No they won’t, Sheri. I’ll make sure they can’t get out of the terrarium.”

I did not argue with him, but I just knew we would regret this.

A couple of days later, the doorbell rang. It was a middle age, plump lady who was a prospective buyer. I smiled and ushered her into the living room, the dining room, and the kitchen. As we turned to go down the hallway, I noticed an escapee from Drew’s room coming our way.

“What’s THAT?” the lady screeched.

Trying to be soothing, I said, “Oh, it’s just a little ….”

“SNAKE!” she shrieked, jumping three feet straight up. She landed with a loud crash then pivoted and raced out of the house, pounded down the sidewalk, and squeezed herself into her tiny VW Beetle.

“But it’s a very nice house!” I called after her hopefully.

She gunned the engine and raced off in a cloud of dust.

We didn’t sell the house that spring. About a month after we removed it from the market, Drew and Christy, our youngest, caught two-dozen black snakes from the wetland. Together, they brought them to the back door, beaming at their catch.

“NO!” I said. “Get rid of them!” This time there was no argument from Tim.

A few minutes later, I heard a shriek from my next-door neighbor, Val. Dashing out the back door, I looked over to see if she was okay. I saw Val waving her hands around frantically, her two kids each holding up two black, wiggly snakes for her to see. I quietly went back inside and closed the door. When another neighbor screamed, I just shook my head. No need to wonder about the reason for the scream. Her kids played with mine, too. I didn’t answer the phone when it rang, either.

It’s so easy to allow little things into our lives that displease our Father. We may think they are harmless, like those water snakes. But they are bound to show up at the most inconvenient moments! If I hold onto anger or resentment, it is going to become evident. It will eventually grow into something that will hurt those around me, even those I love the most. For anger and resentment turn into bitterness, and bitterness poisons not only me, but others as well.

I’ve found that the best way to keep those seemingly little sins out of my heart is to deal with them on the spot, refuse to let them into my soul, and close my thoughts against them. I must not hold onto feeling self-righteous or wounded, or those feelings will come crawling out into the open around others.

Lord, let me treasure only those thoughts that find their origin in You, not in the serpent of Eden!

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things …. and the God of all peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8 & 9, NIV

sheri schofieldAbout the author: Children’s ministry veteran Sheri Schofield was unexpectedly called on to save her husband’s life, a battle that took her to the Pentagon, Congress, National Security and the President of the United States. At her website,, she shares this journey in her book One Step Ahead of the Devil. Sheri’s new book, The Prince And The Plan, launched on June 1. It is designed to help parents lead their children into a saving relationship with Jesus.

Join the conversation: How do you guard against harboring anger or bitterness?

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