Why Snakes?



Now we see a reflection in a mirror; then we will see face-to-face. Now I know partially, but then I will know completely in the same way that I have been completely known. (1 Corinthians 13:12, Common English Bible).

I know, late in the day and I am just now getting something posted. Well, sometimes there is just more to do than I have time to get done. Today is one of those days.

I hate snakes. I mean, I really hate snakes. Well, more accurately, I am afraid of snakes. When I was a kid I got bit and since then, I hate snakes and even worse, I have a great fear of them. I am so afraid of snakes I get scared when I see them on television. I know it is an irrational fear but I can’t help it. When a snake comes on television, I hide my eyes until it is gone.

Some time ago a devotion by one of my favorite Christian spiritual minds, Father Richard Rohr. Though I don’t read his devotions every day, I do read his work at least from time to time. I haven’t read much from him of late, but often what he has to say sticks with me.

I can’t remember the first time I heard someone say, “That is a question I will have for God when I get there.” I guess I have heard the question in some form or another most of my life. Further, I have actually made the statement myself, more than once. Probably my favorite of my own questions is, “God, why snakes?” It is a question I tend to ask when I have just seen a snakes. It shows my hatred and my fear of these awful animals.

I know, the snake question is pretty trivial. Still, others are not. Probably the most common question I have heard and I am sure I have asked it many times is some variation of the “Why God?” question. It is a question with many forms. “God, why do children die?” or “God, why is there suffering in the world?” or “God, why do I need to go to church?” or even, “God, why do I need to pray?” There are many, many more forms of the question and none are as trivial as my question about snakes or other people’s question about “Why bees?” or “why bugs.” etc. etc.

I have always believed it was OK to ask God questions, even the “Why?” questions. At the same time, however, there has also always been a small lingering doubt in the back of my mind. God made us inquisitive creatures. If we are made that way, surely God expects us to ask questions. Yet, there is still a bit of doubt, who am I to question God?

Then I read that devotion from Richard Rohr. Rohr really wasn’t writing about questioning God. It was about creation and being co-creators with God. I will share some of my thoughts on that in another post at a later time. What Rohr wrote, as always was good and insightful. But there were eleven words that really jumped off the screen at me, “I can’t wait to ask God why this seems to be…”

If a learned scholar like Richard Rohr would propose a question for God like, “I cannot wait to ask God why this seems to be…” It seems to me that it is probably OK for us to ask these questions of God too. I don’t think it necessarily means  we will get an answer, not now or even later, but we can ask questions of God.

When we do, we do so remember Paul’s words above, “…then I will know completely…” When we reach eternity with God, all our questions will have answers. Then we shall know. We might even get to know the answer to the trivial question, “God, why snakes?”

Have a blessed day (well, at this hour probably a blessed night) in the Lord.

Grace and Peace,

Copyright 2016, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved


Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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