Avoiding the Venom

A few days after shoulder surgery, I ventured outside to look at my fur babies (the barn cats), livestock, and visit with my old buddy “Bubba” the chocolate lab. With the nerve block removed and full of “happy pills”, it had been a few days since I saw my favorite ranch hand. It startled me when I opened the garage door and saw his eyes swollen shut, infection oozing from them, and one side of his face and throat swollen so much. I knew the cause.

As I reached for my friend, to guide his head with my one good arm, I looked for the telltale signs of a snake bite. Infection oozed from the entire right side of his face. His matted hair didn’t allow me to see bite marks. Given this was a weekend with a holiday approaching; I knew calling my vet would be futile. I called one of my friends from church to please come and try to help me save my friend.

Unsure of what snake Bubba tangled with, I knew by the amount of damage it had been a venomous one. In Texas, we describe an unidentified venomous snake as a copper-mouth-rattle-head-cotton snake; the three most common varieties found in these parts. In using that term, my friend Mr. Donnie knew it was serious and came right away. My poor friend Bubba was suffering. His low whimpering made me cry as I tried to get a harness on him so we could work. His throat so swollen his collar choked him.

When Mr. Donnie arrived, he donned latex gloves, and we began to try to clean Bubba’s face enough to verify this was a snake bite. My pal cried out in pain as we tried to remove the dried, icky, infection from the side of his face and his eyes. The more we tried to clean, the more damage we could see. The venom caused all the hair to fall out on the right side of his head. Each time we applied pressure to the area, more infection oozed out.

Eventually, I found fang marks high on the right side of his face, not too far from his eye. Given the distance between the fang marks (about 1.75 inches), I estimated the snake to have been between five and seven feet long. That eliminated a copperhead (they’re shorter). We guessed it to be a cottonmouth/water moccasin or a ground rattler. In either case, I knew it was bad and suspected a significant amount of deadly venom had entered my buddy’s system.

Weighing in at just over one hundred pounds, I knew Bubba had the mass and was strong enough to survive this. Snake bites are a common occurrence here on the Cross-Dubya ranch. I often see my cows with a large knot on their leg, quite often a snake bite. I don’t think this was the first time something bit Bubba (I’ve seen him feasting on dead snakes in the past); I knew this was a bad one.

The only thing I could do was keep applying Vetericyn™ to the wounds, give penicillin and Benadryl™ rolled up in cheese, pray, and wait. As I was praying for my pal Bubba, I couldn’t help thinking about how the venom was coursing through his system. I asked God to protect my furry friend from any permanent damage. Depending on the venom introduced to his system, I watched for signs of neurological or tissue damage. These signs would help me develop a more effective treatment.

After six days, my friend was getting back to his old self. He was ready to ride in the ATV and look around the ranch, eat, and could sleep. I thanked God for his mercy, looked for signs of the monster snake (with snake shot at the ready), and hoped Bubba has learned to leave those pesky snakes alone.

My thoughts turned to the sinful human nature that still lives in me. Just as Bubba’s system fought against the venom’s effects, my faith-driven spiritual nature is always at war with my human nature.

I prayed God help me strengthen my godly nature so it would grow stronger than the poisonous human one I was born with. Paul’s words of Romans 7:15 (NKJV) rang in my heart. “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.” God reminded me I am not alone in this struggle to put my faith into practice. We all give way to our carnal, human nature from time to time. Perhaps this is purposeful in God’s design so we learn to apply the free will He created in us to deny ourselves and choose Him.

How do you protect your mind from poisonous thoughts? Click To Tweet

Speaking for myself; I often make judgments about another’s dress, conduct, speech, or other cues. These cause me to internalize thoughts that are not very godly sometimes. Too often, these thoughts lead my actions on how I treat that person. I shy away from them. I become short and to the point, rather than engaging with them. These are human reactions; and I must admit I have them more often than I would like.

My prayer for both me and you (if applicable) is that the Holy Spirit helps us strengthen His nature in us so it becomes our best defense against ourselves. I pray we can each avoid spreading the venom of this fallen world.

God’s blessings,

34 thoughts on “Avoiding the Venom

  1. This post broke my heart, J.D.
    I can’t imagine how upsetting that must have been, and how painful it must have been for your friend. You could not be more right about the deadly poison of our earthly thoughts. But the Lord is our anti-venom, isn’t He? He cleans our wounds and renews our thoughts. May He give us the strength to avoid the snakes in our human nature, and renew our minds as He promises in Romans 12:1-2. Thank you for this powerful illustration.

    1. Wow! Speaking of IMPACT… what an impact your words have this morning Pastor Joshua. You are absolutely correct sir; God is our anti-venom to this world and our lives in it. Well said sir. I’m keeping this quote handy. 🙂 I join you in praying for that same strength and growth my friend. God’s blessings.

  2. I cried while reading this. I love the tender way you cared for Bubba and his injury. I began thinking about the venom that runs through my veins at times. When I am angry about something or just frustrated about something. I am thankful for the tender care Jesus provides when He knows I am hurting and need help. Thank you for sharing this special message. Praying Bubba is feeling all better now. 🙂

    1. Thank you Ms. Melissa. It may sound silly to many, but I view all our animals (dog, cats, donkeys, cattle, etc.) around here as God’s blessings to me. I care for them, pray for them, and do my best to protect them and ensure they have the best life they can. I’ve felt since coming here that God placed this land and these animals in my care. I can’t fail Him in my duty ma’am. God’s blessings sweet friend.

  3. I am so glad Bubba recovered! This is an incredible illustration also teaching us to “build our muscles, bulk up” so that we have the spiritual mass to handle the venom that courses in our lives.

    1. Amen Ms. Denise. I just came in from outside, and my pal Bubba stood at the door and waited for his Beggin’ Strip. I’d say he’s back to himself these days. Thank you for your kind words ma’am. Like many of us I think, our world would be just a bit bleaker without our furry friends.

  4. What a great story and reflection. so sorry for your dog though. We don’t have these in northern Minnesota, because of our too cold winters, but we sure have the bad bites of darkness everywhere. thanks and good practical call to avoid the venom and thanks

  5. J.D., I’m so glad Bubba is better. We’ve had dogs to get bitten by copperheads and the damage is extensive. Your analogy to the venom that attacks us is right on target. And, we must be on guard every day. One of the hardest things, as you mention, is our compulsion to judge others by what they say or do (or not). I think we are just as guilty about judging non-action, as well. Thank you for reminding me to always be on alert to the venom that can poison us and bring sin.

    1. Well said Ms. Katherine. We must constantly guard ourselves against “the world.” For me, that means two things. First, I put on the Armor of God each morning through reciting The Warrior’s Prayer. Second, I remind myself of Christ’s feet-washing lesson. If we’re cleaned through salvation, then as we walk through this world, we only need to wash the dust of this world from our feet each evening, through prayer.

  6. I’m SO thankful Bubba is okay! This was a great analogy — we have to take those thoughts captive just like slimy snakes. Except a snake wouldn’t last long in my captivity. 🙂 No snake is a good snake in my opinion, although I know black snakes are beneficial. As long as I don’t see them, we’re okay. Ha!

    1. Me too Ms. Cathy. There were lots of prayers and lots of tears throughout that ordeal. We serve a gracious God though, and I thank Him each day for my pal Bubba. I’m like you with snakes. I’m not scared of them, but I respect them. When they don’t respect me, which means they come into my house or near my animals, it’s time to “go.” Thank you for your good wishes and kind thoughts my friend. God’s blessings.

  7. Wow! A gripping read from beginning to end. I’m thankful Bubba recovered due to your tender, loving care. And I appreciate the powerful connection you make b/t snake venom and Satan venom.

    1. Thank you Ms. Candyce. Am certain his recovery came from prayers and not my TLC. We both know who the “great physician” is; and we know His love for all His creation… even silly old Bubba dogs who steal your heart away with a smile when you scratch their tummy for them. God’s blessings ma’am.

  8. I wanted to give Bubba a hug after reading your post, J.D. Seeing him injured must have been awful. May we be as diligent to seek God’s cleansing for our minds and hearts as you were in saving your canine pal.

    1. Your sweetness is showing Ms. Jeannie. As “happy” as I was that week, as much pain as I was in, I spent a few hours a day sitting in my hot garage, hoping to comfort my buddy in some way. If you’ve never experienced having a dog lay his head in your lap as you pray over them, you’re missing a blessing indeed ma’am. God’s blessings sweet friend.

  9. Wow, a perfect post for this “venomous” time, and I thank you for praying for me as well as I’m always battling my human nature. Oh to be more like Jesus daily. Thank goodness for His forgiveness. A wonderfully written article with the perfect example of what poison can do to us, both physically and spiritually. My heart was hurting for your poor Bubba as I am a dog lover too. Blessings and thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you for such encouraging words Ms. Deborah. As my friend Mr. Jim Swindle adds in his comments here “That’s why we need to keep exhorting one another… .” It’s in the fellowship of the body that we each help the other to grow stronger in their faith. God’s blessings ma’am; and thank you again for your kind comments.

  10. Thank you. To entertain the idea of sin is a form of insanity. I wish I could say that I’ve consistently rejected those thoughts, consistently living by the Spirit’s power. But I can’t say that. That’s why we need to keep exhorting one another, as you have done here, to live God’s way by his power, through Jesus Christ.

    1. Thank you for your comments Mr. Swindle. None of us can claim that sir; I’m pretty sure that’s why they call this life a journey. One that will only end on the day Christ returns my friend. Appreciate the heartfelt thoughts sir.

    1. I did too Ms. Tina. Lots of thanks and praise; I was pretty worried I was going to lose my pal. Thank you for your encouraging thoughts ma’am. If we let our mind dive into this world too deeply, those poisonous thoughts can start to take roots in our lives. Will be looking for your blog soon ma’am. God’s blessings.

  11. Good morning J.D. Your Bubba is strong at heart, and God is not done with him yet. Thanking Jesus for saving him. Spirit is moving, that I didn’t read your post until this morning. Tomorrow I speak on sin, our flesh and becoming a slave to Christ. 1 Corinthians lends itself to the topic. May I ask for prayer as I am filling in for a pastor friend? I have only spoken there once before. Thank you and God bless you, brother.

    1. I agree Ms. Julie. Am convinced there’s more lessons God wants me to learn through my friend Bubba the chocolate lab. Isn’t it funny how God can use all of His creations to show us thing; if we’ll just pause life long enough to look with our “spiritual eyes.” God’s blessings ma’am. Know that I have, and will continue to pray, for tomorrow ma’am.

    1. Thank you Ms. Sylvia. I’m very glad of that fact also ma’am. It’s good to know there’s a cure for what ails us from time to time. It’s when too much builds up in our system that we need a thorough cleansing. Appreciate the great comments ma’am.

  12. You brought me to tears, J.D. Poor Bubba and you! Nasty venom. I’m thankful the Lord answered your prayers and helped Bubba get well.

    1. Awww… Thank you Ms. LuAnn. You are sweet ma’am. I think Diane laughs at me after I walk out the door and tell her “I’m off to feed the babies.” Even the 1,200 pound cows are my “babies.” Am so grateful to God that my friend Bubba the chocolate lab still rides with me to feed and make rounds each day. Am blessed indeed ma’am.

  13. Oh my goodness, how my heart for Bubba, as well as you, J.D. You kept me on the edge of my seat as I read, praying along with you (after the fact) that your sweet buddy survived! I couldn’t help but think about the poison we put into our own bodies, like so many above me posted about, but I also couldn’t help but think about how hard it is to watch someone we know suffer from the deadly poisons of this world and praying daily for them to pull through and step away from that poison. The pain is gripping and constant! Thank you for your post!

    1. Yes ma’am. We can fall into the “trap” of thinking of ourselves and often leave our loved ones out of the equation. They deserve much more than a passing thought during our prayers. I ask myself a question before I pray. “God, show me who in my life besides you that I don’t want to spend eternity without?” Sometimes it’s the same person for weeks at a time. Other times, it varies from family to friends, to the cashier at the local Wal-Mart who I sense is struggling in life. What a great reminder that we need to see if there’s someone in our lives we can offer the antidote of Christ to. Thank you for these wonderful comments Ms. Julie.

  14. It was upsetting to read about this happening to poor Bubba and I’m so glad he’s okay.
    How true! We’re prone to allow poisonous thoughts to infiltrate our thoughts and hearts. It takes mindfulness and healthy doses of God’s Word to help us maintain the mind of Christ.
    Thank you for sharing this meaningful experience.

    1. Thank you for commenting Ms. Connie. Life sure does require daily doses of God’s word, time in prayer, and lots of fellowship to guard against the poisons this world hurls at us each day ma’am. What a great description. Thank you!

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