Opp Alabama held the Rattlesnake Rodeo this past weekend. Yes, we have people here in Opp, Alabama who catch and handle rattlesnakes. And, it’s a big deal in this small town!
When my husband moved to Oklahoma after high school, he told people he was from Opp, Alabama, home of the World Famous Rattlesnake Rodeo. Some people, dead serious, asked him how to ride a rattlesnake. He answered, “Very carefully!” The hardest part is putting the bit in the mouth!
Of course, the rattlesnakes are not ridden (now you know!) but are put on display and participate in a series of races. A large circle is drawn, the rattlesnakes are placed in the middle, and the rattlesnake who first makes it outside of the circle wins. Fortunately, we have a lot of rattlesnakes in our area for the Rodeo.
Where we live, in the country near the woods and fields, we have seen quite a few rattlesnakes over the years. A few years ago, a ten-foot-long rattlesnake, the largest one we have ever seen, with twelve rattles and a button, crawled into our neighbor’s yard to prey upon a young rabbit. Our cat, your average orange-striped cat, named Tiger, happened to be visiting our neighbor and decided to investigate this strange, rattling creature.
The snake struck. My neighbor saw the incident and yelled for help. As my husband and I ran to help kill the snake, Tiger rushed past us emitting ear-splitting yowls.
After the snake was killed, we searched for our cat but the search was fruitless. The woods run alongside our backyard and we thought he crawled in there to die.
We were wrong.
Three days after the incident, our neighbors heard a noise under their house. It was Tiger. The space where Tiger had holed up wasn’t large enough for a human to crawl into. We did what we could, putting food and water as close to him as possible, not knowing if he would be strong enough to reach them.
A few days later he emerged, his head swollen three times its normal size. We still thought he would die.
We were wrong.
He survived and returned to his good-natured self. Later, I asked our veterinarian how he survived a bite from a ten-foot-long rattlesnake. She said a snake detects the size of its victim and injects just enough venom to kill its prey. Tiger did not receive the full amount of venom stored in the snake’s fangs, otherwise, he would never have survived the attack.
Still he should have died from the bite, especially since he received no care for over a week. We know he had no access to water for three days.
Yet somehow, after lying near death under our neighbor’s house, he emerged alive.
We’re all familiar with the story of Satan in the form of a serpent. After Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, remember what God said to the serpent?
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. (Genesis 3:15)
This, many scholars believe, is the first prophecy about Jesus. “Bruising his heel” is all Satan was capable of. He put Jesus into the tomb but could not keep him there. The resurrection of Jesus bruised Satan’s “head”—sending Satan a crippling blow because Christ arose.
We thought Tiger would never be able to survive a strike from a ten-foot-long rattlesnake, a strike he received meant for the rabbit. We underestimated Tiger’s will to live and overestimated the amount of venom the snake injected.
In the same way, even the disciples of Jesus underestimated his power while overestimating the power of Satan. He can only bruise, not destroy.
When Jesus rose from the dead, he endowed us with his power today. Satan may strike us, yet he is only capable of bruising us. Jesus reminded his disciples: Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. (Matthew 10:28)
Our average, regular orange-striped cat, no different than hundreds of other cats, survived the attack of a huge rattler.
We too will survive and will be able to say:
Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting? (1 Corinthians 15:55)
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