A few years ago, it had been raining for several days, and while out in the rain, I saw a huge puddle in front of me, and I thought of Jesus walking on water. Since I considered myself a faith-filled person, I tried to walk on the puddle instead of walking through it and soaking my boots. Of course, I walked right through that puddle and not on the water, and for a second, in my disappointment, I wondered about my faith and why I couldn’t walk on the water. Then, I heard the Lord clearly tell me not to put him to the test.

My “water walking” incident might sound foolish and funny. I freely admit that it was both silly and foolhardy. Yet, there are churches where people boldly do things even more ridiculous than trying to walk on water.

At the end of the Gospel of Mark, we read the following:

And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

Mark 16:17-18 (NIV)

In the Southern United States, in the Appalachian areas, some churches practice snake handling as a sign of faith and a test of their belief in Christ. These churches point to Mark 16:18 as justification for why they handle poisonous snakes. Acts 28:3-6 is also “proof” that this is a good practice. Acts 28 is when Paul got shipwrecked on the island of Malta, and a viper bit him, and he suffered no ill effects.

When Paul put his hand into that wood pile, he grabbed some wood for a fire. No one told Paul ahead of time that there was a viper, and Paul discounted them, saying, “The Lord will protect me; I’m sticking my hand in there anyway.” Likely, if Paul knew there was a viper in the wood pile, he’d not have handled it the way he did, the way any reasonable person would. Thus, pointing out that Paul was bitten by a viper and lived as proof of his faith in the Lord is absurd because that’s not what happened.

Some might argue that it doesn’t matter if Paul knew the viper was there beforehand or not. God didn’t allow Paul to die from the viper’s poison, which is essential, so God will not let someone handling a poisonous snake die, either. Instead of addressing God allowing or not allowing someone to die for doing something they know to be dangerous, let’s ask, “What would Jesus do?” To answer that question, we need to look no further than this passage from Matthew.

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘ He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'”

Matthew 4:5-7 (NIV)

Jesus could have jumped off the top of the temple expecting God to save him, but he didn’t. If anyone in all of creation knows what’s wise and unwise to do, it’s Jesus.

I don’t believe Jesus is telling us in Mark 16:18 to go out and deliberately put ourselves in harm’s way because that isn’t in line with his character or the character of the Bible. Does it mean that God watches over us? I believe that Mark 16:18 is one example of how Jesus watches over those who believe in him, and I’d like to leave you with this testimony of one way that God has watched over me.

I was cooking with a glass dish on my stovetop sometime around the time of the “water walking” incident (I can’t remember if it was just before or after it). Immediately after moving the dish to the back burner and pulling my hands back, it exploded, and glass went everywhere to the left and right of me, but not one piece of glass hit me even though it exploded directly in front of me. If you think that’s amazing, consider this. There was glass now behind me! It was like the glass went through me and didn’t touch me. I was so amazed about what happened that I took pictures.

The incident with the exploding dish is just one example of how the Lord has watched over me. You might not have an exploding dish in your life, but I know that Jesus watches over you because you’re here now reading this.

Do you know God? God knows you, and he loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, and he wants you to know him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, freed from death, and live eternally with him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation:

Lord Jesus, forgive me for all my sins. I repent from my ways. Wash me in your blood and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I believe that you died on the cross, were buried, and on the third day, God the Father raised you from the dead. Right now, Lord Jesus, I open the door to my heart and receive you into my heart as my Lord and personal Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.