I love to go on hikes. And I mean long hikes.
At least three times every week – and frequently four – I go on a nearly 10.5 mile hike through the desert. I live in an unincorporated area right next to the foothills that make up the beginning of the Little San Bernadino Mountains, and all I’ve got to do is walk across a street and I’m out in the boonies.
I love the quiet, the solitude, the time to pray, to reflect on my day, to just gather my thoughts and feelings and make sense of the world and my little place and part in it. Those walks are the highlight of my day, not to mention my dog’s day.
There’s only one not so little problem: rattlesnakes.
Due to my schedule as well as the heat of the desert, I’ve got to start off in the fairly late afternoon. Which means that a good share of my walking takes place in the darkness. Which means I’ve got rattlesnakes on the hunt a good share of the year. And they’re nocturnal.
I occasionally see different species of non-poisonous snakes. I don’t mind them and they don’t mind me. If you eat rodents, keep up the good work. But lucky me, for every non-rattlesnake I see, I see at least a dozen rattlesnakes. It’s like they’re drawn to me or something.
And we don’t get along so well. I took out eleven rattlesnakes so far this 2014. Believe me, that’s more than enough to keep me looking for them.
Rattlesnakes are deadly. And if I encounter one, I deal with it in a manner that has not endeared me to the rattlesnake community. Now, someone might tell me, “If you leave them alone, they’ll leave you alone.” The problem with that is that I can assure you from personal experience that rattlesnakes cannot be counted upon to hold their end of that bargain. If you or your pet get close to one – no matter how unintentionally – it will bite. And did I mention rattlesnakes are deadly?
Let me tell you something: when you’re out in the desert in the dark these moving land mines will just freak you out.
Mind you, it also freaks you out when you take one on and try to take it out. It’s about as easy to kill Jason Voorhees as it is a rattlesnake. They do NOT die easy. And you will find that even an hour or two after they finally ARE dead, their bodies will still continue to move. It turns out that they can even deliver bites hours after they’re dead. It is no joke to encounter one of these things, believe me.
And when they move, they move scary fast.
I’m not trying to argue that rattlesnakes are “evil” or “demonic.” They are predatory animals who do what predatory animals do. And as long as they remain far enough away from people and their pets in human-populated areas, God bless them. But that said, I have found in my reflections that there are principles that rattlesnakes have in common with the fallen angels otherwise known as “demons.” Which is why I find it particularly illustrative that Satan appeared to Eve in the Garden in the form of a serpent.
Every time I go on my walk during rattlesnake season, I say a prayer that the LORD protect, defend and deliver me and my beloved dog from rattlesnakes, coyotes, mountain lions and other threats that we can walk into (I pray to be safe from the human rattlesnakes, too). And I ask the LORD that we not even encounter any of these dangers. I make that distinction because if I encounter a rattlesnake, that doesn’t mean that the LORD failed or refused to protect me.
That’s lesson one: sometimes the LORD wants us to encounter – and to confront and combat – evil.
Evil is a reality. We cannot avoid evil in this world. There simply inevitably comes a point in life when we must face it and deal with it.
While I have no doubt that God has often sheltered His people by either keeping them away from evil or evil away from them, we cannot live our lives and walk across this earth without ultimately having to confront evil. We can’t pretend it isn’t there, or that we can keep hiding from it, or that we can reason with it, or negotiate with it, or compromise with it. Evil always plays for keeps and it will always take whatever you offer it and then it will try to take everything else away from you, too. We won’t ultimately be safe from evil until it is totally defeated and destroyed.
And so we should pray accordingly: go ahead and ask the LORD to keep evil away from you; but ask Him most of all that He would keep you and yours safe, protect you and deliver you, when it is your turn to confront evil. Because evil will come against you, and either you will prevail against it, or it will prevail against you. And I for one want to have God on my side whenever that moment comes.
As I walk along out in the desert in the growing darkness, I know that there isn’t a rattlesnake behind every single bush. As many of them as there are crawling around out there, there is nevertheless a limited number of them. The same is true of demons: I have heard it dismissively said of a particular Christian or particular Christian denominations that he or she or they “believe there’s a demon behind every bush.”
Well, we know there isn’t a demon behind every bush. But if you’re wise you know that there could be a demon behind any particular bush, just as there could be a rattlesnake behind any particular bush when you’re out in the desert at night.
That’s lesson two: evil is pervasive. It is all around us. You have to be on the lookout for it or you could be in great danger.
The Bible says this: “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
My emphasis is the “be alert and of sober mind” part as well as the fact that our enemy is constantly prowling around out there, hungry for us and for our loved ones. Anyone who thinks that the Bible teaches that we should have a cavalier disregard of the demonic realm is biblically ignorant. The Bible at great length assures us that demons are real and they are out to get us and either harm us or deceive us into harming ourselves.
As dangerous as a rattlesnake that you see before you is, the one that is there but that you do not see is vastly more dangerous. And the same is true of the devil and his fallen angels.
As I am walking, I am constantly and continually scanning for rattlesnakes. Because there’s no way to predict that one will be here and not there or there but not over there. Rather, they could be anywhere out there; and they are literally lying in wait, ready to strike. It’s just what they do. And as I’m walking and scanning, I’ve said my prayers that I will invariably repeat more than once that the LORD reveal them to me, that the LORD let me discern the presence of serpents, that neither myself or my beloved dog will walk into deadly fangs.
There’s something about knowing that you are potentially walking into deadly ground that livens your prayer life. It isn’t theoretical or even merely possible any more; it’s real. I’ve been forced to confront it many times and I know that I will very likely confront it again. And every walk is a battlefield and I go in earnestly praying that the LORD will keep us safe and deliver us and protect us.
Think of that proverb, “There are no atheists in foxholes.” That word wasn’t given by some pencil-necked bookworm reverend delivering a sermon to a congregation of old women; it was given by a man who served in Bataan and subsequently reinforced by military men – and even by General Dwight D. Eisenhower – who understood that in the presence of the greatest dangers there is the greatest and most powerful presence of a Great God. You’re in trouble, you’re in danger, you have a sense that your life could be snuffed out at any moment; and you call out to God. And that is when you find Him the closest and the nearest and the dearest. The Bible says that “There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24); if you’ve ever been in a deadly, desperate place where you know in your gut that no one else can possibly help you, only then have you truly known the power of a God who surrounds you in a way that no other friend possibly can.
And the number of men and women who have faced their darkest and most terrifying moments and found that presence to be the Ultimate Reality is well into the millions. Because that God is real and His deliverance is real.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” — Psalm 23:4
That’s lesson three, by the way: never take the ground you are walking over for granted when it comes to spiritual warfare. Because the reality of danger is absolute; and there could be death waiting all around you.
One day a few months ago I was working on my motorcycle. For the record, I enjoy working on my bike or on my car – as long as I’m achieving and progressing in my efforts. When things don’t go well, when I misplace tools or parts that I just had a second ago, or get bogged down by difficulty getting a tool or a part to be in the sort of precise alignment I need it to be in, well, I confess to coming unglued. As in “completely unglued.”
Anyway, on this particular occasion, I became so darned angry that I was ultimately ranting at the only One who could hear me (at least I HOPE none of the neighbors heard me!): “Why don’t you just kill me and get it over with?”
As angry as I was at the time, I immediately realized that I had just crossed a line. And I realized that in a much more profound way because whether I was done working on the bike or not, I was going to be going on one of my hikes through the desert very soon that very evening.
And I knew it would be all-too-easy for the LORD God to give me what I had just essentially asked Him for. Because I go out far enough and into difficult enough terrain that if I get bitten by a rattlesnake, no ambulance is going to be able to reach me. And in some of the places I go there aren’t even very many four-wheel-drive vehicles that would be able to get to me.
And so I realized that I hadn’t just said some idle words: I had literally just invited death upon myself.
And it was with that realization that I confessed my sin before God with urgency that I would not have had were I not walking out into the gathering darkness of the desert.
And that’s lesson four, which corresponds directly to lesson one: you get yourself prayed up if you know what’s good for you.
That very day, as I was walking, I came across something that I had frankly never seen before or since in all of my many walks: a dead rattlesnake. I could see what happened: a dirt bike had ridden right over the thing and killed it. It hadn’t happened all that long before, I could tell: because its body was still moving.
Now, a nonbeliever might just chalk it up as a meaningless coincidence, but that sure wasn’t my frame of mind: I saw that dead rattlesnake as a message from God. That one could have been for me.
If I’m going into harm’s way, I’m going there in a spirit of prayer. And if you’re wise, so will you.
On the subject of getting prayed up and confessing your sins, let me now give you a lesson five: if you’ve got children, you ought to know that this DOUBLY applies to you.
What’s interesting – and I’ll explain as I continue – is that I’m generally not overly worried about myself on my long walks: it’s my beloved dog that I worry over incessantly. I am well aware of the dangers and I’m looking for them; but is my dog – playing and investigating as she does – so aware?
If you’re a parent, you know what I’m talking about: that fearful attitude for your little one that says, you go ahead and do what you want to me, but don’t you dare even so much as LOOK at my kid or I will END you.
That’s why I kill every rattler I come across, for the official record.
But let me tell you this, parent: I worry about my little girl out there. That’s what scares me the most in the desert. When you have a little loved one in peril, you’re left feeling almost physically sick. You get physically sick with fear for what almost happened to your kid. It just terrifies you and unnerves you in a way that you would never be so terrified or unnerved if you were only thinking of yourself.
I could leash her all the time, but this is a vast, isolated place where God literally made her to run over. And most of the time she’s safe. Just like any child, my dog needs her independence and opportunity to be on her own. I always put her on the leash when there’s obvious danger or when my gut – or my spirit – tells me to do so. But she has to be allowed to run on her own, too. If you’re a parent, you obviously understand the tension inherent in striving to find the perfect balance between excess fear and excess confidence that nothing bad can happen.
So most of the time she’s running around; and I am constantly worrying about what she’ll run into.
I can’t keep her safe all the time, any more than any parent can keep their child safe all the time.
There are those moments when you realize the safety of your beloved kid is out of your hands and out of your control, and all you have to rely on is the LORD God.
And so I’m praying and I’m praying. And I’m telling you, parent, you pray for your kid. You get on your face before the LORD and you pray that the LORD will intervene on your behalf to protect your child from harm. You confess your sins and ask for forgiveness so you can intercede with the LORD over your child and you pray that the LORD will give your child the discernment to sense the presence of evil and have the sense to flee from it; you pray that the LORD will deliver your kid from evil.
There was a time about six months ago that I was walking in the morning, rather than in the evening. But rattlesnakes are like us: they don’t want to be out there when it is too hot; so they are most on the prowl in the early morning and in the evening. Just like you. Well, anyway, my dog jumped on a big boulder, as she does pretty much every time there’s a big boulder for her to jump on. And that’s when I saw a big Western Diamondback. I had my camera, so I took a picture of the thing before I took it out. Because it won’t be so pretty when I get done with it. Anyway, I took the picture and was looking for a big rock. I saw a good rock behind me. And without thinking it through, I walked over to get it.
Well, I was walking away from my dog, who jumped off the boulder and began to trot toward me.
Right into the path of the rattlesnake.
I saw the danger too late and screamed at my dog at the top of my lungs to try to somehow avert what was happening and which I was too far away to do anything other than yell to prevent.
That was actually a mistake. Because my dog is a sensitive girl and yelling at her just causes her to shut down.
So now she’s coming toward me all freaked out because she knows I’m upset. And she’s scared and not thinking about what’s around her.
She trotted right into the path of that rattlesnake. Right into its path. And as I looked on helplessly in utter horror it struck at her from point-blank range.
To this day I remember it as if it were in slow motion: the coiled-up snake struck at my dog’s left front side, at her shoulder just above her leg. And somehow it missed by less than half an inch. I could literally see it miss as it struck at her left shoulder, but it was so close that I had to carefully examine her and make sure that it hadn’t struck her. I couldn’t accept that she was okay until I had my hands over her.
What are the odds of that? That a lightning-fast rattlesnake would strike at a dog from point-blank range – and miss?
I’m telling you, it was God and His angels, that’s what it was.
I killed it extra-dead. If death can be compared to caffeine, I gave that rattlesnake a quintuple espresso latte of it. With lots of extra gory sprayed on top. Because don’t you DARE mess with my little girl. I threw those rocks down so hard on that rattlesnake I have a feeling some of them ended up in China.
And I thanked the LORD God and I frequently continue to thank my God that He protected my beloved dog.
You know just how it is if you’re a parent. Sometimes I’ll be on my hike and some kids on dirt bikes or quads will come flying up the trail. And in a minute I’ll be mad as hell at the risk they’re putting my little dog under, but at the moment I’m not thinking about being mad or getting even; I’m just thinking about how to get my dog to safety. It’s only after I know she’s safe that I start getting mad (as in rabid).
It’s an amazing thing to have a little dependent life; you don’t think about yourself. You think about your little loved one. And I’ve never, ever in my life feared for myself the way I’ve feared for those little souls who depend on me to take care of them.
Turn that sense of all-encompassing concern into action and PRAY FOR YOUR KID LIKE YOUR KID’S LIFE DEPENDS ON IT. Because it literally can.
If your kid is safe from evil, you thank the LORD for it. And you keep praying that the LORD will protect your kid. Because your kid has this in common with my dog: both are very likely oblivious to many of the worst dangers that could harm them. And so YOU need to take that responsibility on yourself and intervene on their behalf even as you try to watch over them as best you.
And in the same way, whether it’s your spouse or your aging parents or your aunts and uncles or your friends at work, when you sense that they may be facing danger, YOU PRAY FOR THEM. And you keep praying for them. You intercede with the LORD on their behalf.
There are so many dangers facing children these days, not merely physical dangers but dangers to their self-esteem and to their worldview and to their very souls. Parents tend to blissful ignorance until they see a clear threat against their kids; and THEN they freak out. I’m trying to point out that parents need to realize that their kids are in danger every time they leave their sight. And we need to be praying that nothing harms our kids. Because there are parents who sincerely believed they’d done everything right protecting their kids, but one day they are horrified to discover that their kids’ souls are just poisoned and their attitudes are toxic. And it happened right under their noses BECAUSE THEY WEREN’T LOOKING FOR DANGER OR FOR OTHER FORMS OF DANGER THAT CONSUME CHILDREN. And there are just ALL kinds of rattlesnakes out there seeking to twist and harm your kids in all kinds of different ways. And we need to realize that our kids are walking through a snake field a good share of the time.
Pray for your children with a sense of urgency and with the attitude that God hears and answers the godly prayers of parents for their kids.
Here’s another one for you: as I’m walking along, I pull out my flashlight and I turn it on and illuminate my path. The more you’re in the dark, the more you need light. That’s lesson six, for those keeping score at home.
I walk over some pretty uneven ground. And at night what you most lose is depth perception, the ability to clearly see if you’re about to walk up a rise in elevation or down into a sink. There are rocks all around that can cause you to trip and stumble; there are old water channels from past flooding that can cause you to lose your balance. You can wander off the trail and not even realize you’ve done so.
If you get even a little bit distracted, you can literally get turned around and think you’re going the right way toward home when in reality you are walking deeper into the darkness.
Because it can get DARK out there. Many times I’ve put my hand right in front of my face and couldn’t make out my hand even though I knew exactly where it was and was looking for its shape.
And of course, like I said, there are rattlesnakes, a lot of rattlesnakes. And they could be anywhere out there. And sometimes they’ll rattle but often times they’ll lie motionless as they count on their camouflage. And that would work out great for everybody – unless you accidentally step on them or get so close you trigger their aggression.
All I’ve got to reveal the presence of these poisonous serpents is my flashlight. And that flashlight is so critical to me that I carry a backup every hike just in case something happens to my primary.
With that flashlight, I can see my path. I can see where I’m going and where the dangers are. I can identify the best and safest course as I pick my way over old heavily eroded trails.
In the rest of my life, I have that same sort of flashlight; it’s called the Word of God; it’s called the Holy Bible.
The Bible tells you right from wrong; it will tell you which path you should take and which ones you should avoid.
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. — Psalm 119:105
This world is a dark place that is growing more spiritually dark by day.
People are walking around in spiritual blindness. And they’re living like it.
And when you stumble around in the dark for long enough, something bad will ultimately happen to you.
God uses His Word as His primary vehicle to communicate with you. If you won’t read what He’s already declared in His Word, why would He waste His presence trying to tell you anything else?
When you read His Word with a heart to follow the right path, it is amazing how God speaks to you and teaches you and remains with you throughout the day when you’ve been in His Word. And throughout the night even in the darkest darkness.
Refusing to open your Bible and look at the world through the revealing light of God’s Word is as stupid as walking into the desert night and refusing to turn on your flashlight and look at the world through that truth-revealing light.
Lesson seven is this and it came to me as a cumulative realization: you can trust God; you can depend on Him; only He has the power to change and transform your circumstances. There are times when only He can save you and keep you safe. And that delivering power amazingly becomes the most evident in the face of the most dangerous adversaries.
A couple of illustrations:
One night a couple of months ago I was on the way back from my hike and having that greater sense of safety from walking back on a trail that I had walked a couple of hours before. And I turned at a certain spot – as I frequently do – to look for gun brass which I collect and either use or sell in an area where a lot of people do their target shooting. I’d never seen a rattler in this particular area and had my guard down. Anyway, I found a lot of .45 brass on a berm and was busy collecting it. And as I looked to one side, there was more just below where someone had stood on the berm and blazed away. And so I stepped down the side and was busily picking up the brass.
And I reached to pick up a case and froze as I saw that my hand was literally one inch away from a rattlesnake. Which only then began to rattle its ominous warning.
It’s a darn good thing a nurse wasn’t there to take my blood pressure just then, or I would have been rushed off to the cardiac ward, I’m guessing.
I’ve never let my guard down since – refer to lesson two – but I found myself consumed with an overarching question: why didn’t that snake bite me? I’d almost petted the darned thing.
And the instant answer to my spirit was that the LORD God had shut up its mouth. Just as the LORD shut up the mouths of the lions when Daniel was thrown into their den (Daniel chapter six) as a form of usually-guaranteed execution (see verse 24).
My God is El Rai, the God of sight who keeps watch. He sees me even in the darkest dark. And He is Jehovah Mephalti, the LORD my deliverer.
That serpent couldn’t bite me because the LORD would not let it bite me. I could almost hear the argument as Satan said to the LORD, “But he’s an IDIOT!” And the LORD smiled and said, “Yes, but he’s MY idiot. And you cannot have him.”
God is sovereign over His creation. To the unbeliever, the world and what happens in it seems random. But to believers, when we look back over the course of our lives, we see His guiding hand. We think back to those places and times when we needed something to happen that seemed very unlikely to happen without a miracle. We can clearly see what we may have struggled to see at the time we were struggling: the Immanuel presence of God with us. And when we look ahead to the future, we can therefore trust in His Providence.
There are times when it is easy to see the world through and unbeliever’s eyes as we encounter what seems to be a random universe where good or bad randomly happens. And that is because God created a causal universe for a reason; and He does not intervene incessantly or in a willy-nilly manner. One of the reasons we refer to “miracles” is because they are events that do not ordinarily happen. God seems to most delight in accomplishing giant changes through small “nudges” rather than through grandiose displays – where some seemingly minor thing happens at just the right moment that changes everything. And He delights most of all in accomplishing miraculous deliverances through the miracle of His people coming together for us in our time of need in love rather than through miracles as the world defines them.
That said, there are just too many moments in my own life in which I have had an audience with God and seen Him work miracles that I know in my own life and in my own heart could have come only through HIS hand. God doesn’t perform those miracles for me continuously; but He has provided them for me continually. And whenever I sincerely look for His presence, I find it all around me.
Those miracles remind me that my God delivers, my God heals, my God provides, my God restores. And when I count upon Him, He will somehow come through for me in a way that I will later marvel over.
Next illustration – and this one is why I wrote this article:
I was on my long hike on a Monday night quite recently and encountered a rattlesnake next to a cyclone fence which bordered a middle school. There was a drainage ditch and another cyclone fence – and then there was nothing between that snake and a lot of young kids.
I tried to kill the snake, but I couldn’t find a big enough rock close by. So as it was, I only managed to wound it before it crawled under the fence under the cover of a shrub.
There was a gap in the fence where the rattlesnake coiled up. I could try to lift a rock over the fence and crush it from above, but in doing so I would expose my foot to the snake. No thanks.
I felt bad, because I wanted to end whatever suffering it was experiencing. I could see that I’d injured it, because I saw a little blood, but had no idea how badly I had hurt it.
The next afternoon I set off on a shorter walk, but one that took me past the spot where I’d encountered the rattlesnake the night before.
Knowing the rattler could still be there, under that bush on the other side of the fence, injured and dangerous, I leashed my dog and investigated.
I was just about to release my dog from the leash when I suddenly spotted something fifteen feet away out of the corner of my eye.
It was the rattlesnake. It had crawled back out from under the fence and was heading into the desert. As I looked at it, I couldn’t see any signs of serious injury and I noted that it was crawling at a pace that would have taken it to the distance I encountered it in a matter of a few minutes at most.
The rattlesnake had not been that badly hurt the night before; it coiled up smoothly and quickly when I approached it.
I finished the job I’d started and as I was walking along it occurred to me: it was NINETEEN HOURS LATER. That snake had remained in that spot for all that time; literally all day long on a warm sunny day. It had only left that spot a matter of several minutes before. And why had it remained there all that time and why had it moved when it did? As it was, it moved just far enough to be removed from the safety of the fence and just close enough that I was able to spot it. A few minutes more either way and I may either have been unable to kill it on the other side of the fence just as I had been unable the night before or unable to see it as it escaped into the desert.
It did not move because Jehovah El Elohim, the LORD God of gods, did not let it move. We had a divine appointment.
It was as I pondered why that snake had ended up in the perfect place for me to a) see it and b) kill it that I began to realize that just maybe God had been putting me through a basic training course in spiritual warfare. I have come to believe He is preparing me for something that is coming against me, my family or my church in which I am going to encounter a demon. I feel that He has had me trust Him as I’ve stared into the eyes of rattlesnakes in order to prepare me to trust Him as I stare into the eyes of a demon.
It may seem strange to some who read this: why do I keep walking through the desert with all those nasty things crawling around out there? For the record, the snakes are about to hibernate, but the colder weather will allow the many coyotes in the area to be considerably more active. And we’ve got occasional bobcat and mountain lion sightings in the area that I walk.
I’ve never seen anyone else walking out there. Which is to say if you’re in that neck of the desert and you see a crazy guy walking around in the dark, it’s very probably me. Why do I do it?
And the answer is that as much as I am aware of the dangers, I have a powerful sense of peace – the peace of Jehovah Shalom – as I walk through even the valley of the shadow of death. I have a profound sense that the LORD my God will take care of us, and protect us, and deliver us as we walk even through the darkest night. I’m not out to test God; I’m just out for a walk in the place I most love and during the only time I can do it. And as I walk, I’ve learned to constantly call upon the LORD. And I trust Him to give me everything I need.
Again, rattlesnakes aren’t demonic. They’re animals. I used to love the coyotes and admired their beauty and intelligence and ability to survive in a harsh and unforgiving climate. That was when I had Rottweilers and the food chain worked in my dog’s favor. Now I’ve got a 43-lb dog who is not much over a fifth the size of my last Rott who stood 32″ at the shoulder and weighed in at 195 muscular pounds. And suddenly the food chain is on the coyotes’ side. And now I suddenly see those same coyotes that I once thought were so beautiful as threatening predatory vermin. In other words, it’s a simple matter of perspective, isn’t it?
For what it’s worth, I don’t doubt for an instant that God has brought many Christians to the same end by a very different means. Please don’t think I’m instructing you to go out into the desert at night looking for rattlesnakes in order to be prepared to fight demons.
These animals aren’t demonic; but they have taught me much about spiritual warfare and how to wage it. Jesus invariably described the Kingdom of Heaven to earthly phenomena because there is a correlation and a parallel between how the physical world operates and how the spiritual world operates. The medium is different, but the abiding principles remain the same.
God did not create us to live in a safe cocoon or a bubble. There are dangers in the world – both physical and spiritual – and He provided us with the resources we need to deal with both. And also just as I have to recognize that there literally COULD be a rattlesnake behind every bush, in the same way I understand that Satan has many demons and they could be anywhere around me. And just as I realize that I have to be continually on the alert in discerning the presence of rattlesnakes, I must be ever sober and wary and on guard against the principalities and powers that the Bible says are real threats. And I must never, ever, EVER take God’s deliverance for granted, but rather actively seek it continually.
I know as a result of these experiences that if you have children, you are their nexus between life and death in many ways. And that you must constantly intervene with God on their behalf and pray for them and for their protection and safety from evil.
I know as a result of my experiences that I desperately need light and that I am blind and vulnerable and ultimately helpless without light. And I know that just as my flashlight illuminates my path in the darkest desert night, my Bible illuminates my path even when my life intersects with the darkest people in the darkest places. I must count on the illuminating light of God’s Word to discern demonic evil just as much as I trust in the illuminating power of my flashlight to discern rattlesnakes. And I either have that illumination or I will stumble and fall just as the world is stumbling and falling as it prepares to worship the beast and take his mark.
But most of all, I know that I can trust God in the presence of my enemies. And that as dangerous or as powerful as they might seem, they are as nothing before the LORD who can shut up the mouths of serpents and keep them from moving unless He wills them to move.
And as I write this, I have not yet stared into the eyes of a truly possessed person with my basic training behind me. But I have stared into the eyes of enough rattlesnakes, and I believe that God will give me the same confidence of spirit to trust in Him if and when that moment occurs.
Because the same God who is God over the serpents in the desert is in the same manner and in the same way God over even the most powerful of Satan’s demons and even over Satan himself.