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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Christian Baptism (10/18/07)

TITLE: Three Snakes and a Fish
By Dee Yoder


“Justin, I’m glad you asked me to pray with you, especially today.”

“Yeah, I’m glad you want to.”

“No problem.”

Justin and Tom are standing in their own little group, while the others that are also being baptized find friends to huddle with against the chill wind. The Black River is living up to its name today, and its dark water looks anything but inviting to the small gathering of new Christians waiting for the service to begin.

Pastor Mike clears his throat and gives a signal to the song leader to start the music. The chords of a worship tune drift out into the air as the acoustic strums of the guitar vibrate softly.

Justin glances at the paper twisted in his hands; he has written out his testimony of faith. He thinks about the troubles that led him to this day: drugs, alcohol, and hangovers. It had been a hopeless struggle to find peace because his chaotic childhood was born of pain. His parents didn’t want to be together, and the misery they felt was handed down to their children. Home was never a safe haven for him or his brothers, but today he’ll try to begin a new life.

Though he wants to control his emotions, when he looks at his friend Tom, Justin feels a tug at his heart. Tom was the first one to learn about the peace that only Christ could give. He had shared it with Justin right away, but Justin shrugged off the phone calls and visits of his friend. He was angry that Tom thought something as stupid as religion could help him feel that life was worth living in this trashed world. But as time passed, he saw a change in Tom; he was calm and happy, something Tom had never shown in all their party years together. Justin had grown more curious as Tom grew more religious.

“Remember when you came to my apartment, the day after I got wasted at Lindsey and John’s wedding?” he whispers to Tom.

“Yeah. Man, I thought you wouldn’t make it after that one.”

“You and me both. That’s when I decided I’d better listen to you. I wonder what would’ve happened to me if you hadn’t come that day?”

“I’m just glad I did. Something, or Someone, told me to check on you.”

“I gotta be honest, Tom. Part of me still thinks this religion stuff might not turn out in the end. How will I know that God won’t let me down? Dude, this world hasn’t given me much to believe in, y’know.”

“Yeah, but it’s not about religion, its—hey! Lookit that!”

Justin turns toward the water where Tom is pointing. On the slick surface glides a big black snake. It swims smoothly across the river and disappears into the bank on the other side. Tom raises his eyebrows at Justin.

The service proceeds, the other soon-to-be-baptized Christians unaware of the snake in the river. Then, just as Pastor Mike begins reading the scriptures, Justin spots another snake, sliding silently through the water. He nudges Tom and points to the snake. Again, Tom gives Justin a questioning look, his face showing his disbelief at such an uncanny event. Pastor Mike’s voice brings their attention back to the service.

“The fish, a secret sign which early Christians used to identify themselves, is a fitting symbol for us today as we gather by the river to baptize each of you in your new faith. You’re going into the water to be washed clean, then raised up as a new creature in Christ.”

As Pastor Mike turns to motion the first convert to the river’s edge, another snake appears in the middle channel of the shadowy deep water. This time, everyone spots the reptile and watches in astonishment as a large fish suddenly leaps to the surface and begins to devour the snake.

Justin gives his friend an incredulous look, and Tom suddenly bursts into laughter.

“Dude, I can’t think of any better way for God to tell you that He’s in control!”


“Get it? The good fish eating the evil snake?”

“The good fish eating…oh! Wow, man. Cool,” Justin grins back at his friend.

As he watches the others going into the water to be baptized, a feeling of peace settles over Justin’s spirit. He realizes that he’s found a safe haven and Someone, not of this world, that he can trust with his life.

“Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” Romans 6:3-4, The Holy Bible, New International Version

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This article has been read 1184 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 10/26/07
Really well-written, and I love the realistic personalities of the two young men...but I've got to say that once I'd seen snakes in the water, there's NOTHING that would have gotten me in there!
Seema Bagai 10/27/07
Enjoyed reading this piece. You created a vivid, memorable scene.

I don't think you needed the verse at the end. The story stands well on its own.
Verna Cole Mitchell 10/27/07
You got the voice perfect in this, and the symbolism was just right.
Marita Vandertogt10/31/07
I love the snake/fish thing happening here - creates an image that stays in the mind - a positive one of the power of Christ. Maybe a little too much "telling" at the beginning, but once the snake got slithering, I was drawn right in.
Marty Wellington 10/31/07
Loved the symbolism. Are you sure it was a fish? Might've been a gator. Pace slowed a little in the beginning with background story--not sure if so many details were truly necessary. Loved the tail--oops, mean the tale. Great twist on baptism.
Laury Hubrich 10/31/07
I agree with Jan -- don't think I would be staying long in that water with snakes around! Of course, with the snake-eating fish -- maybe... But if the fish are big enough to eat a snake -- I still don't know about that... Great story!
Sara Harricharan 10/31/07
Wow! I didn't quite see that one coming, even with your title. Great story! I liked the friendship between the two MC's. It was believable and true. Good job. ^_^
Sheri Gordon10/31/07
Okay, that might have been enough to send me to a sprinklin' church. A snake and I would not have simultaneously been in that water, or anywhere near that water.

Nice writing, and good analogy. (After I got over the creeps.)
Betty Castleberry10/31/07
Great symbolism, although reptiles really aren't my thing, especially elongated ones. This was a good read, and very well written.
Janice Cartwright11/07/07
Just now getting around to reading some of the Baptism entries. :) This was really imaginative Dee but yes a little scary. Good characterizations and story line.
terri tiffany11/11/07
Very nice writing! I loved the ending but also the dialogue and attention to details.
Linda Roth11/14/07
I like the way your characters and the scene came to life!
Jan Ackerson 01/28/08
Dee, I've been looking for Front Page Showcase material, and I came across this wonderful story again. It's still great, and I plan to feature it on the week of Feb. 18. Look for it on the FW home page!
Edy T Johnson 02/18/08
Thanks, Dee, for pointing us to your Front Page story (which I might have otherwise missed). I enjoyed everything about this entry.
LauraLee Shaw02/19/08
So glad to see this on the front page of FW, Dee. This is a fabulously entertaining story with a great message. Congrats!
Sara Harricharan 02/22/08
Congrats on your front page showcase-glad I got to read this again! ^_^
Beth LaBuff 02/22/08
This is so creatively written Dee. Congrats on being the FW Frontpage Showcase author. You're having a good week. :)
Debbie Wistrom02/22/08
I missed this first time around, so glad it was posted here on the front page. Wonderful story. Go Big Fish!