Brother Tom and “they shall take up serpents”

In Southern California, during one of the harvest seasons, I had an honest young infidel working for me. The young man was engaged in loading and I was pitching sheaves on the load, when he said;
“brother Tom do you believe in the Bible?”
“I said, every word of it.”
“He said, do you believe in Mark 16:18?”
“I said, I do.”

I prayed silently to Jesus, that if he wanted to convince this young man of the truth of his word, that he send along a snake and I would take it up. Soon I heard a hissing sound from under the sheaves, I said “Jesus sent you a long, I want you!” I grabbed the snake some distance from the head and I lifted it up to my friend on the wagon. He looked at me, and then said “Kill it! Kill it!”

No. I said, Jesus sent it along, I am going to let it go about its own business. After a while he laughed, and said “Tom that was only a common California snake” I judged from the expression he was not satisfied with the test. I prayed again “Jesus, why did you send along a common snake? If you want to convince this man, send along a venomous one.”

Not long after I heard the hiss of another snake. I cried “hold on there, I want you,” and laying hold of it I did the same as the former one and I held it up to my friend saying, how about Mark 16:18?”

He turned pale and said hastily “drop it! Drop it! Kill it!” I put it quietly down after stroking its head and body with my other hand and said “go on, Jesus sent you here, I’ll not kill you.”

When my friend could speak, for he was pale and shocked, he said “Tom, did you know what kind of a snake that was?” “I said, no” he replied, “that was a deadly Viper, and if had bitten, you would be a dead man!” I said, “it could not bite, Jesus would not permit it!”

I don’t pretend to have that kind of faith, but I am not going to belittle it in the man who has. I am, I trust, man and Christian enough to praise God when I see someone going further than I can!

John G Lake:
Divine healing
The complete collection of his life teachings p626