The Trouble With Snakes

by Sheri Schofield

“Look, Mom!” Drew said, a harmless water snake clutched in each hand. “I’m gonna put them in my terrarium.”

“No,” I said firmly. “They will get loose in the house!”

“No, they won’t!”

“Honey,” said my husband, who had just come into the room, “I’ll fix the lid so the snakes can’t get out.”

I just shook my head and sighed. Our house was on the market, and the last thing I needed was snakes in it. But when Tim sides with our son, there was no point in trying to talk common sense to either of them.

About a week later, a prospective buyer came to see our house. I smiled and ushered the plump, middle-aged lady into the living room and spoke of the homey features. Then we turned toward the hallway to the bedrooms. There in the middle of the hallway crawled an escapee from Drew’s terrarium.

“What’s that?” the lady gasped.

“It’s just a…” I began apologetically,

“SNAKE!” she screeched, leaping three feet into the air. Gyrating toward the door in mid leap, she came down with a crash and was already out the door before I could catch my breath.

“But…but…it’s a very nice house!” I called after her. But she was gone, never to be seen again.

We didn’t find the other snake which had escaped until we moved out. It lay shriveled up in Drew’s closet, along with a flattened, dried frog. (That explained the peculiar odor in his room!)

Snakes always escape. There’s no point in trying to pretend otherwise. In the same way, the thoughts and intents of the heart also escape through our lips and actions. Trying to pretend we see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil does not work.

Jesus said, “A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart” (Luke 6:45 NLT). Jeremiah writes, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” (Jeremiah 17:9 NLT). Since we have fallen natures, the only way to keep our hearts’ contents good is through trusting Jesus day by day. In that way, we can guard our hearts against evil.

The Holy Spirit, living in those who believe and trust in Jesus, produces good things in our hearts. The things escaping through the lips of Spirit-controlled believers are love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (See Galatians 5:22,23, NLT.)

When I was a teenager and later a young adult, I used to pray, “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips,” Psalm 141:3 (KJV). I knew my tendency to allow gossip, bitterness or complaints to poison my words. As the Lord has gradually gained more control of my heart, I have learned to live more and more in His grace. But until the day I am ushered into His presence, the battle for a godly heart will be with me. So, day by day, I surrender my heart to Him, that the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart will be pleasing to my Lord. (See Psalm 19:14.)

May the grace and beauty of the Holy Spirit flow through us always!

Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. 1 Peter 3:3,4 NLT

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

sheri schofield

About the author: Sheri Schofield is an award-winning children’s author-illustrator and children’s ministry veteran of 40 years. Sheri was named Writer of the Year in 2018 at the Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference for her work in effectively sharing the gospel of Jesus. Her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids, can be followed on her blog at her website, Questions welcomed!

FREE CHILDREN’S PROGRAM! Author/Children’s Bible teacher, Sheri Schofield, offers a free series of video lessons about Jesus and His salvation—for children ages 4 and up. It is available at her website In this video series, Walk-The-Talk Island, Sheri presents her award-winning book The Prince and the Plan, in 24 video lessons for your children, grandchildren and any others with whom you wish to share. In addition, Campfire provides devotions for children.

Join the Conversation: How do you work on your heart?

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?