Our Texas porches want pumpkins in autumn, temperatures notwithstanding. There might not be color in the trees yet, so we depend on pumpkins and chrysanthemums. I’ll set my favorite yellow and deep orange mums atop a weathered bench on the front porch and add a few pumpkins to accentuate their glory.
I’m only a fair-weather gardener. And a fine October day brings out the ounce of Martha Stewart in me. It was on just that balmy sort of day when I grabbed my old metal bucket filled with essentials for tending my flowers—gardening shears, a pint-size watering can and some fertilizer. But a strange notion stopped me in my tracks: There’s a snake on the porch. I stopped short of opening the front door, my well-worn garden clogs waiting for my feet to move.
I don’t like snakes, even harmless, beneficial ones. I don’t want them around. But I hadn’t seen a snake in ages. Why would I think a snake was on the porch? I’d never seen one there before.
I pushed aside the gauzy curtain in the window alongside the door. No snake in view. Even so, I parked my bucket and resumed household chores instead.
Later I peeked out the curtain again—nothing but a pumpkin. I reached for my bucket, but the compelling thought returned: There’s a snake on the porch.
Perplexed, I turned and headed for the den sofa—my place of prayer. “Lord,” I asked, “This is so strange. Are you warning me about a snake?”
An unexpected “answer” came to me as I recalled a spring day:
I’d been standing on the back patio when my Jack Russell terrier flew down the steps and into some nandinas. A long snake darted from the bushes into the grass. Rufus searched wildly around the yard for the snake, while I watched, knees-knocking, from the patio. That old “snake in the grass” saying was true; it hid invisibly until I saw it slither under the wood fence, escaping into a neighbor’s yard.
For days afterward I avoided traversing the backyard to tend my vegetable garden. But finally I had to face my fear. I sat on a patio step to pray: “Lord, I know snakes are around here. But I want to work in my garden. Could you please keep me from coming upon a snake?”
Months passed without seeing a snake. I forgot all about that simple but sincere prayer, until this day, sitting on the supplication side of my sofa.
I lingered a few minutes more, amazed at a God who hears and understands. I rose up encouraged. What is a snake when I have such a heavenly Father watching over me?
I took my bucket and opened the front door cautiously—just in time to see a rather cute snake slide away from behind the pumpkin.
Blue Ribbon News special contributor Patti Richter works as journalist, writing news and feature stories, book reviews and more for many Christian publications. She lives in Heath with her husband Jim.
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