Rejoice in God always; again I will say, rejoice! (Philippians 4:4) Singing a childhood song based on this verse, I hoped that Andrew would allow the words to sink in. I instructed him to try to remember the words of the song whenever he's having a hard day or feeling sad or scared. I told him how I struggle with remembering God's goodness when things aren't going my way, but that recalling words like these shape my thinking and attitude. They are transformative.
As I paused to ponder what to say next, I gazed out the kitchen door to our deck, and I caught a glimpse of this:
Note the very long snake hanging out on our deck.
I stepped back in surprise, shock even. We live in the city; we aren't supposed to have creatures like this lurking in our backyards. Cockroaches, yes. Mice, yes. Stray cats, yes. Long, scary snakes, NO!
I have to confess that despite the repetition of the verse just seconds before this situation, I was not praising God for the snake. I got on the phone, first with Dave, and then with emergency responders, who I'm sure thought I was crazy, and referred me to a critter control company. In my mind, this was much bigger than critter control. When I called Dave a second time, he suggested that I ask my next-door neighbors for help.
Now my neighbors moved in nearly one year ago, but I still don't know them very well. Most times when I'm walking by their house, I'm getting ready to go somewhere, and I'm in a frenzy because we're late and the kids are not listening to my stress-filled instructions. Honestly, I'm a little ashamed of my behavior, and this is my excuse for not initiating. Anthony and Angela are parents to a very charming one-year-old. Anthony is kind, calm, and strong. And he works second shift. Realizing that Anthony might be home, Dave also had a feeling that Anthony would not be afraid of snakes, and may even like them.
Anthony seemed to welcome the opportunity to handle the snake. He walked out onto our deck, and after taking a quick look at it, picked him up, told me that it was likely someone's pet, said he would take it home until someone came to inquire about it, and asked if I'd like him to search our backyard for more snakes. Holding back tears, I thanked Anthony and watched him take the snake home with him (sorry Angela).
We've had quite the week with critters at our house: a spider on our bed, a millipede with me in the shower, termites in our woodpile, ants in our kitchen, and now a snake on our deck. (I assure you, this isn't normal; our house is typically pest-free, at least I think it is!) Each time, I've wanted a superman to come to my rescue - someone to swoop in and remove the nuisance, to lift the fear and burden. I'm feeling thankful that sometimes our difficult or scary situations lead us to ask for help and depend on others, even others we don't know very well. Today this snake led to communication and relationship with my neighbors. It even resulted in an invitation to ask for help in the future. For this, I am grateful. In this, I can rejoice.