George Bowers Sr.: We need an aerial perspective

George Bowers Sr.

If you ever have a hankering for a story, just say the word, “snake.” Everyone has their own favorite tale about these legless creatures that strike fear in the hearts of all humanity and most are anxious to share them with anyone who will listen.

My friend Benny shared a snake story with me that occurred several years ago up at the Woodstock Tower. For those who have never been, the Woodstock Tower is an observation platform on top of the Massanutten Mountain that provides an incredible view of the Shenandoah Valley and the seven horseshoe bends of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River. The gravel road up to it can be a little hairy, but the view from the top is certainly worth the drive.

On this summer day, Benny had taken his young son John up to enjoy the view. While his dad continued to take in the stunning vistas, John returned to the bottom of the stairs. Suddenly my friend looked down from the deck above and very firmly instructed his son not to move. Though the boy found his father’s request quite odd, he did so because of the seriousness in his dad’s voice.

Benny then went on to explain that from his vantage point, he could see a copperhead lying not far from where his son was playing. John was actually jumping over the snake he did not see. Benny told me that he couldn’t get down the stairs fast enough to move his son out of harm’s way, worrying the whole time that John might disobey and be bitten.

Imagine what might have happened if the son ignored his father’s directions with an air of arrogance and independence. We can picture the possible outcome if he would have responded, “Don’t tell me what to do, Dad, I know what I’m doing.”

Their mountaintop experience was different than most but it thankfully had a happy ending with no snakebites to report. They both escaped unharmed with only a story to share about their unexpected encounter with one of the only two poisonous snake species in our area. And that story has now become a part of their, and my, collection of snake stories.

What I found particularly interesting about this experience was the help and insight provided from overhead. Even though his son was completely unaware of any harm or danger, his father could clearly see it from above and through his warning, was able to spare him unnecessary pain. An aerial view can often prove quite helpful in gathering information that would be unavailable otherwise, which explains why drones are now being used by the military, industry, and private citizens alike.

Thankfully, we have someone watching over us as well and he doesn’t need a drone to do it. Our Heavenly Father sees everything from his vantage point and can spot potential disasters long before they unfold. Through his Holy Spirit as well as his written word, he has warned us about common hazards that threaten us all. Unseen dangers often lurk near us that we are completely unaware of and can cripple or kill us if we don’t take evasive action. In some cases, we actually play near some unseen perils that could cause us great harm.

Too often, however, we reject God’s instructions naively believing that we’re wise enough to know and see all, and that we don’t need anyone telling us what to do. How overbearing of God to try to dictate our actions. In reality, he is attempting to spare us unnecessary pain and we are too proud to accept his help. It was Benny’s love for his son that motivated him to speak to John as he did. He wasn’t trying to kill John’s fun, but rather to prolong it by sparing him great pain.

So too it is God’s great surpassing love for his children that motivates him to set boundaries for our behavior and to warn us as he does. Even though we think we know everything about everything, our knowledge is quite limited and we need his eternal and all-encompassing perspective.

As we consider this snake story, let us look again to the one in our tower and follow his instructions. Let’s read and study his words to determine how to best honor and obey them, even if we don’t always fully understand them. And let’s remember that he loves us and has our best interest at heart.

Looking up, George

George Bowers Sr. is the senior pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren and has authored nine books including his latest, “Valley Verses, Volume III.” He can be reached through www.georgebowersministries.com or at gabowers@shentel.net.