Writing Archives - August 2012
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Snaking The Dogs

Note: This is a story I wrote that was cut from the book God Of All Creation because the editors thought it too shocking. It is a bit disturbing, but I learned such a great lesson from it that I wanted to share it. Hope you can handle it!

“You wanna see a rattler?” Bill asked with a wry smile. I knew this would be interesting because Bill manages a ranch in South Texas where the rattlesnakes can top six feet in length and grow as thick as your arm.

“Sure,” I said. He led me to the upright freezer on the front porch and opened it. He pulled out a massive, frozen rattlesnake.

“Six-foot-two,” he beamed. The length wasn’t obvious because the snake was coiled in the striking position and covered in frost.

“Why is it frozen?” I asked.

“We stick ‘em in a cage and drown ‘em,” he explained. “That way it doesn’t destroy the skin.”

As I marveled at the impressive serpent, I noticed something out of place. “Is that fishing line?” I asked, pointing to the snake’s mouth.


“Why is there fishing line around the snake’s mouth?” I asked.

“I sewed his mouth shut,” Bill answered. He must have known by the perplexed look on my face that a frozen rattlesnake with its mouth sewn shut with fishing line made absolutely no sense to me. I guess he was waiting for me to ask, because he just stood there grinning.

“Alright, I’ll bite,” I said. “What’s this all about?”

“This is how we snake the dogs,” he said. I just shook my head, not even understanding the term. He relented and explained the process and purpose.

“When we find a big rattler like this, we catch ‘em and sew its mouth shut. Then we take the snake and put it in an enclosed area with the huntin’ dogs.”

“Wait,” I interrupted, “you sewed its mouth shut while it was still alive?”

“Yeah, a friend of mine holds the snake while I run the line through his mouth,” Bill said as casually as a seamstress explaining how she sews the buttons on a jacket.

“Do you drug the snake first?” I asked.

“Nah, you just hold ‘em tight,” he said.

“You must trust the guy who was holding it,” I quipped.

“Oh yeah,” Bill said. “You don’t want ‘em getting’ loose. This rattler was pretty mad about it.”

“I guess so,” I replied, hardly believing the story up to this point. “So what do the dogs have to do with it?”

“Well, that’s the thing. Before we put them dogs with the snake, we put shock collars on ‘em. When we throw the snake in there, them dogs get curious and check out the rattler. When they get too close, the snake strikes. Of course, he can’t bite, ‘cause his mouth’s sewn shut. But we hit the dogs with that shock collar as high as it will go.”

“Doesn’t that hurt the dogs?” I asked.

“Yeah, it hurts ‘em, but it doesn’t kill ‘em, like a rattlesnake will.”

Now I began to get the picture.

“Once the dogs learn to leave that rattlesnake alone, we take ‘em out and remove the shock collar. That way, when the dogs are out in the brush and they run up on a rattler, they remember how much it hurts and leave ‘em alone. Otherwise, we’d be losing dogs left and right out here.”

“Pretty smart,” I said.

Later, when I was recounting the story to someone else, it struck me that maybe God does that with us. Could it be that when we make small mistakes, He allows us to feel the pain so that we don’t make bigger ones?

Hebrews 12:10-11 says, “For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.”

For those hunting dogs, the discipline of being “snaked” is painful. But afterward, if they adhere to their training, they will live in peace even among the deadly rattlesnakes that surround them.

I believe life is like this for people, too. John Maxwell said, “A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them.”

We live in a world full of things that will hurt us. The Bible tells us that the enemy comes to “steal, kill and destroy.” God challenges us to be alert because our enemy is like a roaring lion, “seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8) Like the rattlesnake, sin will cause us tremendous pain, and possibly even kill us, if we don’t learn to stay clear of it.

Paul urged his friend, Timothy, to “run from all these evil things” and “pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness.” (1 Timothy 6:11, NLT)

We can obey God’s Word and avoid much suffering by running away from sin and pursuing good things. But when we do sin, I believe that we are sometimes allowed to taste the pain in order to learn. At times, we may wonder why God allows us to experience the consequences of our poor decisions. But if God is a good God, just as Bill is a good dog trainer, wouldn’t he allow us to endure a little pain in the hope that we will avoid more pain in the future?



Snaking the Dogs

You Can Shine

Was Jesus A Failure?

Happy New Year?

A Season of Joy

Peculiar People

Living the Fantasy

Diary of a Roman Soldier


The First Issue

Why Does Christian TV Suck?

The New Christian Media

The Religious Left


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