Several days ago, I was out for a walk. I wasn’t paying much attention to the road and was in my own little world. I had walked out from my village to the outskirts where there’s another section with some new houses and had turned around to head back home when I noticed a red truck approaching. It was in the middle of the road and it had slowed down. The driver was also trying to get my attention by pointing to something in front of the truck. It was a snake.
By this point I was only a few metres away from the truck and the snake. As soon as I saw the snake I immediately starting walking backwards, but slowly, away from it. The guy in the truck drove over top of the snake but not with the tires, just the body of the car. He then backed up slowly. The snake had risen up. I later found out that only cobras do this. [It’s probably a good thing that I didn’t know that at the time.]
He continued to back up and eventually the snake went flat on the ground again and continued crossing the road. I waited. Then I went to the side of the road from which the snake had originally come, relatively far away from where it currently was, and spoke briefly to the guy driving the truck. It was actually my neighbour’s brother, Waat, who was driving the truck. He told me that I was lucky.
Thinking back about the snake incident, I’m amazed at the timing of it all. The Lord sovereignly brought that truck at that exact time. If he hadn’t come, I wouldn’t have seen the snake until we had crossed paths. I asked some friends about the incident later (which is when I found out that it was a cobra) and found out other details which make me even more thankful that the Lord protected me as He did.
That very morning, I’d been reading in Dallas Willard’s “The Divine Conspiracy” about the Lord’s prayer and how we need to pray that God would keep evil away from us. “Lead us not into temptation/trials/evil…” Early on in my walk, I’d been thinking about that and what I’d read and was praying to that effect.
This snake incident is such a clear example to me of God looking after me. It very easily could’ve turned out differently – but it didn’t and I praise God for that.
“God expects us to pray that we will escape trials, and we should do it. The bad things that happen to us are always challenges to our faith, and we may not be able to stand up under them. They are dangerous… The excessive confidence people have in the strength of their own faith – usually it is when they are not suffering, of course – simply makes the danger worse. The attitude of James and John, seeking in advance their own promotion in the government they expected Jesus to set up, is characteristic. He asked them if they could go through what he was going to go through. They replied, “Yes Sir, we can do it!” (Matt. 20:22). This is precisely the attitude of self-confidence we must avoid, and the final request in the model prayer is designed to help us avoid it. Once again, we are asking for pity, this time in the form of protection from circumstances. We are asking a Father who is both able and willing to extend such pity to not let bad things happen to us.” (p. 265-266)
You may be thinking to yourself, “But what about what we can learn through trials and through suffering and what God wants teach us through these things?” or, “What about when bad things happen to good people?” or, “What about when you pray this and you still face suffering?” “What then?”
Willard fairly addresses each of these points.
“As we attentively make this prayer a part of our constant bearing in life, we will see how God indeed does keep us from trials and deliver us from evil. Constantly. We will see how often good things happen even to “bad” people – as well as to the good. And of course we will find that we do have trials, and that some bad things come to everyone. No one is exempt. We can count on that too.
“But we will also become assured that any trial or evil that comes upon us has a special function in God’s plans. As with daily provision of food, there is continuous provision for every need, no matter how dire. We may not always have it ahead of time, but often right when we need it from the God who is right there with us. Our bedrock certainty of this will stand firmly upon our many experiences of the presence and goodness of our Father. We will have firsthand experience of how his strength is brought to perfection in our lives precisely by our weaknesses, combined with hopeful faith…
“People who do not ask God to spare them from trials and evils usually do not even recognize his hand when they are spared. They live under the illusion that their lives are governed by chance, luck, accident, the whims of others, and their own cleverness. And because they do not ask, do not constantly invite God in, that may well be, to some significant extent, no illusion. If one is content with such an outlook, God will probably leave one with it. He respects us, no matter how wrong we are. But we will never know our life to be one in The Kingdom Among Us.”
(p.266-268, “The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard)
I am very aware of God’s hand in my life and I’m incredibly thankful for Him and His care for me.
Some co-workers of mine have seen their share of snakes. Many of them were inside their home! And in each of those cases, it occurred when my friend’s husband was away and my brave friend had to go at those snakes with a large machete. After I told her about my snake experience the other day, she told me how they have one prayer partner who prays specifically about the snakes and other dangers. She also told me how since she herself started praying specifically about the snakes, they haven’t had any snake problems in their home.
I think that I also need to be praying in this way! I would appreciate your prayers as well!