Venom

Your lips, O my spouse,
Drip as the honeycomb;
Honey and milk are under your tongue;
And the fragrance of your garments
Is like the fragrance of Lebanon.
                  Song of Songs 4:11

There’s a cartoon that appeared in the New Yorker, a drawing of two men seated, one behind and the other in front of a broad empty desk. Perched on the shoulder of the man behind the desk – like a pet – is a large, scary bird-like creature with horns and spikes. It even has fangs that jut down from its beak. The demonic bird has its menacing eyes fixed on the man sitting in front of the desk, while the man on whose shoulder it sits says, “One day I just reached deep down inside myself and there he was.” You can’t help thinking that whatever purpose the man in front of the desk is there for, he would do well to forget it and run. The creature looks eager to give him a nasty bite at the slightest provocation.

The cartoonist played on a primal human fear, the fear that our worst behaviors might not originate entirely with us, and that venom, the kind one can’t see or measure in a beaker, might come from something rather than just appearing, spontaneous and Freudian. Whether we believe in venomous beings or not, we can’t deny that some of us are brought low by toxic thoughts and emotions. We can’t deny that some of us seem to be shot through with poison, even so eaten up with it that our minds and souls are dying and gangrenous. There are a lot of poisoned people walking around. They snarl and snap and sometimes really sink their teeth into others, thereby passing on the torment they have suffered. In my experience that’s a problem that calls for a stronger cure than Thorazine and Librium.

Christ told his disciples, “These signs will follow those who believe…they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them.” (Mark 16:17-18) Maybe he was not only talking about copperheads and arsenic. Jesus believed he came to save the world, and he believed he accomplished his purpose at Calvary, an event the son of man himself compared to Moses lifting a bronze serpent on a post (John 3:14). Whoever looked on that ancient serpent was saved from the fiery bites of snakes that had been loosed by sin (Numbers 21:6-9), and who among us is without sin? Jesus believed the blood he spilled at Calvary was the remedy for all of life’s ills. A lot of us see it the same way.

It’s been almost half a century since Andraé Crouch recorded “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power,” but the song, like the blood, is undiminished by time.

The blood that Jesus shed for me,
Way back on Calvary;
The blood that gives me strength
From day to day,
It will never lose it’s power.

It soothes my doubts and calms my fears,
And it dries all my tears;
The blood that gives me strength
From day to day,
It will never lose it’s power.

It reaches to the highest mountain,
It flows to the lowest valley;
The blood that gives me strength
From day to day,
It will never lose it’s power.

Thank God there is no bitterness that cannot be made sweet.

© MK Simonds

 

 

 

 

 

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