SAFETY NETS

bald python and florida cottomouth snakes
If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. [1 Corinthians 10:12 (NLT)]

Our local zoo does a fascinating presentation called “Snakes Alive.” Two snake handlers stand in a walled area while the spectators stand on the other side of the waist-high wall. Using snake hooks and tongs, the keepers bring out their reptilian charges—including venomous snakes such as rattlers and cottonmouths. As the snakes roam freely around the enclosure, the keepers talk about each species. There may be as many as three snakes loose at once. Even though the keepers are speaking to the audience, they keep their eyes on the snakes at all times. Since they wear low-cut hiking boots, I wondered about their footwear and asked why they didn’t wear high boots. The keeper responded that they’ve found wearing high boots gives them a false sense of security. When trusting boots to keep them from harm (which they won’t), the keepers tend to become complacent and less vigilant, adding that lack of caution can have disastrous results.

I thought of that response when five of the famed Flying Wallendas fell over 30-feet while practicing an eight-man high-wire pyramid stunt earlier this month. Known for performing without a net, the Wallendas weren’t using a safety net that day. “We don’t train with a net. It’s been taught for generations a net can be a false sense of security,” said spokesman Nik Wallenda. “It’s all about training and preparing,” he added. Like high boots for zoo keepers, even a net cannot fully protect someone. In the 1930s, one of the troupe died when he fell into the net and bounced out of it.

While I don’t advocate performing on a high-wire without a net or sharing an enclosure with venomous snakes at any time, I think both the Wallendas and the zoo’s reptile handlers make a good point. High boots can’t prevent snake bites, nets can’t prevent falls, and being a Christian doesn’t mean the enemy won’t get his fangs in us or make us lose our balance.

Satan wants us to get so comfortable and relaxed in our lives that we start going through the motions rather than truly keeping the faith. We are so sure of heaven that we forget about hell. Being Christians it isn’t enough to protect us from the enemy—we must live as Christians. When life is going smoothly, we tend to get lax in Bible reading, prayer and even church attendance. Although we have the armor of God, we get too self-confident to put it on. We become self-reliant rather than God-dependent. When we stop bubbling over with heartfelt enthusiasm for God, we become tepid and lackadaisical and the enemy is ready to strike while we’re looking the other way. When our worship becomes perfunctory, our prayers are half-hearted and our good intentions regarding Bible study and service remain just intentions, Satan distracts us and we start wobbling! When we become spiritually apathetic and stop paying attention to God, Satan is right there waiting to attack. As well trained and prepared as both the snake handlers and the Wallendas are, they can’t allow themselves to let down their guard or become complacent and overly confident in their abilities; neither can we! A lack of caution can have disastrous results!

Not everyone who calls out to me, “Lord! Lord!” will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, “Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.” But I will reply, “I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.” [Matthew 7:21-23 (NLT)]

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