My dad was terrified of snakes. Growing up in Indiana, he said the big black snakes in the barn would chase him. I have no idea if this was true or his youthful imagination, but those snakes left a mark on him and he would run the opposite way any time he saw a snake. I’m not talking about quick steps or a slow jog. He would flat out run.
One time when we were camping, my sister, my cousins, and I found a snake on the road that was dead. We thought it would be a fun joke to scare dad, so we took the snake back, put it up on the tent awning with the tail trailing down. Dad didn’t notice at first, so one of us made a comment and he looked up.
I had never seen my dad move so fast. He could have been an Olympic sprinter in that moment. I had also never seen him so angry. Dad wasn’t one to get really mad at us, but that stunt tested his limits. And possibly gave him some gray hairs.
I am reminded of my dad when I read about Moses talking with God in Exodus. God is asking Moses to go to his people in Egypt, but Moses isn’t sure the people will listen. God gives Moses a sign to convince him.
“So the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He [Moses] said, “A rod.” And He said, “Cast it on the ground.” So he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it.” Exodus 4:2-3
When I read that Moses fled from the serpent, I picture my dad running away from that snake. Running as fast as he can. Moses must have had similar experiences with snakes and didn’t like them at all.
The interesting note is what comes next.
“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail” (and he reached out his hand and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand)” Exodus 4:4
Isn’t Moses’ faith amazing? He had this horrible fear of that snake yet he reached out and took it by the tail. Why? Because he trusted God. And when he had faith in God, Moses conquered his fear.
The same can be true for us. We all have a certain thing we fear, many of us have more than one. Heights. Water. Spiders. Crowds. The list is long. Yet, when God asks us to step out in faith and do something out of our comfort zone, we must be ready to set aside the fear and trust God implicitly.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Tim. 1:7
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear…” 1 John 4:18
Some may be saying a sound mind doesn’t pick up snakes. (Smile) But, this isn’t about picking up snakes. This is about conquering our fears – no matter what they are. With God at our side, we can trust that what He asks us to do will be safe and right. Even if that rod looks like a serpent, when we reach out in faith it will become the staff.
My dad’s fear of snakes did mellow. He never developed a love for snakes despite my trying to convince him they were beautiful. But in his later years, he didn’t run from them when he saw them in his barn.
We must all work to put aside out fears and step out in faith when God calls us to do so. The benefits of overcoming that fear will be amazing.
The picture above is a rattlesnake from one of my walks in the desert. I did not pick it up by the tail to see if it would turn into a staff. (Grin)