But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead…
Several years ago my older sister and her husband came down from their home in Fresno to celebrate Thanksgiving Day with my family. We planned to have the dinner at 2:00 pm. If you know my wife, then you know when she says 2:00, she means precisely at 2:00, not 2:05, 2:30, or 3:00. She means two o’clock on the nose. We usually have 30 to 35 people for Thanksgiving (it’s a big deal), and believe it or not everyone knows this (sons, daughters, in-laws, mothers, fathers, friends, boyfriends and girlfriends). So everyone gets there early — that is except my sister — she showed up at a quarter to three.
By itself her late arrival wouldn’t have mattered (normally we would have gone ahead and served dinner), except she had my mother with her so I asked we hold the meal until they arrived. When my sister finally walked through the door I have to admit I was a bit perturbed. 30 people were waiting for dinner and my wife had spent forty-five minutes frantically trying to keep the food warm. I asked my sister, “Nancy why couldn’t you have been on time?” She answered, “You know how Mom is, it takes her a while to get ready and do everything.” My sister continued, “Well we’re here now, and I’m starving!”
At this point I had two choices: 1 — be angry, grumpy, make a big stink about it and ruin the day for myself and everyone else; or 2 — get over it. I chose option two. I smiled, gave her a big hug, told her I loved her, and said, “We’re glad you’re here; let’s eat!” Which would you have chosen? The big stink or shake it off?
In our passage today, Paul too was stung and he had a choice to make. He could have done what everyone expected or something different. That difference is Jesus. Just as the Lord protected Paul from the snake’s venom, He also quelled my irritation that Thanksgiving Day and overcame it with His love.
Later that day, my sister approached my wife and I to thank us for the meal and apologize for being late. She didn’t realize that everyone would be waiting, or it would take so long to get our mother ready. Fortunately, I had already let it go. Sometimes little things can turn into really big problems, if we let them. Is there something in your past that you have allowed to turn into a really big deal? Do you just need to get over, in other words shake it off into the fire and be done with it (whether or not the other person apologizes)? Mathew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” The choice ours: swell up and die in anger and resentment, or shake it off into the fire? Which will you choose?