Arnie bounced off the school bus and vaulted over the rose bush. When a shaggy Australian shepherd came around the corner of the house, Arnie called out, “Hey, Tiger, you silly dog.” He dropped to one knee and caught a handful of shaggy hair on each side of the dog’s face. “How are you boy?” He nuzzled his face against Tiger’s. “Come on, let’s find some food.”
The door slammed behind them as they dashed through the house. “I’m starved,” said Arnie, “there’s got to be some eats in the kitchen.” He pitched his books on his bed, then slipped into some play clothes. He was heading for the kitchen when he heard his mom’s car turn into the driveway. He grabbed a quick glass of milk and a handful of cookies.
“Mom’s home, Tiger. We gotta hurry. She might want me to clean my room, but today’s too nice to be inside. Let’s get going!”
The front door opened just as he and Tiger were about to make their escape out the back.
“Mom, me and Tiger are going to the creek,” Arnie called to his mom.
“Tiger and ‘I’ , and please be careful,” she called back.
“We will!” He grinned at the familiar correction.
Mom’s great, he thought. I better clean my room later or she’ll gripe me out.
He caught a hand full of hair on Tiger’s back and tugged affectionately.
What can we do at the river, he thought, I forgot my fishing pole.
“What about it Tiger, you wanna go swimming? Naw, we best not. Mom said not to swim unless another person is with me.” He looked toward the cove and got another Idea.
“Hey Tiger, maybe we could find a slimy lizard for `Show and Tell’. That’s a fantastic idea! Come on, Tigg’- er, I’ll beatcha to the cove.”
They dashed for the inlet. Tiger won with ease. Arnie fell to the ground gasping for air.
The underbrush and leaves almost concealed the cove. They made their way down to the water’s edge. Water skippers and dragonflies flickered about. Tiger chased bugs and spiders, jumping here and there, having fun. Arnie looked around for just the right “show and tell” subject, he spotted a large scaly lizard sunning himself on a rotten log. Quietly, he crept toward the log, his gaze fastened like a magnet on the lizard.
A sudden movement in the leaves, then a sharp pain in his leg caused Arnie to cry out. With a jump, he whirled around, facing the spot where he had been. A large snake was sliding into the water.
Tiger leaped forward and grabbed the snake by the tail and slung it furiously from side to side until it was dead. Arnie tied a shoelace around his leg above the snakebite. He knew he must get home as fast as he could without running. His grandfather had explained to him how running increases the blood flow and moves snake poison faster through the bloodstream.
The snake lay withering on the ground. Tiger stood over it growling angrily. Arnie picked it up by the tail and headed toward home. “We need to take this with us, Tiger. The doctor will need to know what kind of snake it is.” His voice quivered as he spoke.
Arnie’s leg throbbed. He knew he could die if the snake was poisonous. He remembered his mother saying, “God will always be with you and will hear your prayers.” Tears ran down his face. Arnie wished his mother was here now. His mouth felt dry as he quoted last Sunday’s memory verse out loud. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Then whispered, “Dear God, I’m so scared, and I don’t want to die. Please help me.”
As Arnie neared the house, he could see his mother working in the garden. He called as loudly as he could. She rushed to him and helped him into the car. On the drive to the hospital she kept looking at Arnie and asking if his leg hurt much. It did, but he no longer felt afraid.
Later, the doctor told Mrs. Kippling the snake was a type of water snake, and although it inflicted a painful bite it wasn’t poisonous. Arnie felt much better after that.
On the way home Arnie told his mother about talking to the Lord in prayer and telling him that he didn’t want to die.
“I’m glad you remembered to do that,” she said. “It gives me confidence that in the future you will depend on the Lord to guide and comfort you.”
They rode in silence for a while. Arnie was glad God had helped him. He thought about the lizard he didn’t catch. But he did get something for ‘Show and Tell’. Arnie smiled and leaned over to look at his bandaged snake bite.
His mother’s voice broke the silence. “You’ll still need to straighten up your room when we get home.”
Arnie grinned up at her, “Yeah, I know Mom, I will.”
MEMORY VERSE: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” Philippians 4:13.