I hate snakes…

I have this terrible fear of snakes. It isn’t just a casual fear of snakes…it is more like a life and death fear.

When I was a little girl, I would have nightmares about snakes…if I would leave my arm dangling over the side of the bed, I would trigger a dream that a snake bit me and was holding onto my arm…or leg, depending on which limb wasn’t safely tucked under the blankets.

As I got older, my fear did not subside. I had never even seen a snake, except at the zoo. And worms didn’t bother me at all. Neither did spiders, bugs, mice, rats…Nothing but those evil, slithering reptiles.

My parents sent me to Southern California to attend college. I saw NO snakes.

I met my husband in college, we got married and then moved to the desert. Still no snakes.

Then we moved to the rainforest in Ecuador. We lived in the heart of the jungle…I saw no snakes. I was always on my guard, though. And other people saw them…but I never did, in all the four years we lived in that country. I admit that I was a reluctant river swimmer. When I swam in the ocean and was stung by jelly fish…no problem.

I remember when the movie, Anaconda, was released. I never saw it. When we watched Indiana Jones…I closed my eyes…No educational special features on snakes. Never.

In our previous home…I was confronted by two snakes. Of course, when I was home alone…I managed to sever their heads and defend my territory. You might think that I had, therefore, conquered my fear and moved on…HA!!!

Imagine my dismay when we moved out of the house and my husband informed me that he had found a snake IN MY SEWING THINGS INSIDE MY SEWING ROOM and never told me…How close had I come to grabbing a snake out of the box of fabric???

Those dreams are always just at the edge of my consciousness when I go to bed. And my house is at the edge of a creek with tall grasses and overgrowth…you know, perfect for all sorts of creepy crawlers. But in the six years we have lived here, I have been able to avoid the snakes…maybe it’s the dogs, or the many other types of wildlife we have living around us…

But yesterday, I saw a video of an amazingly horrifying LARGE snake…and I couldn’t tear my eyes away. I wanted to, desperately, but I just couldn’t do it.

As I watched the short clip, many different thoughts came and went. The Bible talks about snakes…even right off the bat in Genesis 3 when Satan deceives Eve and she eats of the forbidden tree then shares it with Adam. Part of the story is well-known and commonly referenced…the bad apple, forbidden fruit…but there is also a reference to Jesus Christ in what God says to the serpent as he is cursed…

“Because you have done this,
Cursed are you more than all cattle,
And more than every beast of the field;
On your belly you will go,
And dust you will eat
All the days of your life;
And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel.”

Jesus is the descendant of the woman’s seed. This prophetic verse says that Jesus will bruise (fatally) the serpent on the head…and the serpent would bruise Jesus on the heel.

My dad used to tell a true story about an older woman who lived in the country alone. There were a lot of snakes on the property, so when she left her house, she carried a metal pipe with her. Often, she would return home to find a poisonous snake sunning himself on her concrete step. She would use her pipe and crush the snake’s head, killing it. Unless she crushed or severed its head, it would live and cause problems in its own defense. Even after it was dead, it took awhile for the snake to quit moving and twisting.

Jesus has already dealt Satan’s death blow…the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ was the beginning of the end of Satan…yet still that serpent writhes and twists…Another metaphor for Satan is as a toothless lion…roaring and trying to devour, yet with limited power.

The image of a writhing, headless snake has been almost like a caricature of biblical truth for me…and then a friend posted a video…beware…it is graphic but a wonderful picture of what the Bible states about the wounded serpent–

That snake in the video is dead. But it is still writhing, and it is still deadly. There will soon be an end to its ability to destroy life.

In the same way, there will also come a day when Satan will also stop writhing and no longer be able to destroy life.

Jesus, in His death brought life. He came to slay the destroyer.

I Peter 5:8
Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.

 

John 10:10

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

John 3:16-18, 36

“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God… The one who believes in the Son has eternal life, but the one who refuses to believe in the Son will not see life; instead, the wrath of God remains on him.

I still hate snakes. Dead or alive, I hate them. BUT I now have a pretty clear visual of what effect Satan has now, and what his power will become. I am so thankful that Jesus was victorious over the wound in His heel, and that my hope is now secured for eternity.

What are YOU afraid of?

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Being Afraid…

I joke that I am old. It drives my middle child (who is 30) nuts. She says I want to look like I am fifty. I respond by saying I am 54, so what’s the big deal?

She hates that I don’t cover up my gray hair. I laugh and tell her it’s my glitter! My silver hairs were mostly earned because of her, and she knows it. And when I look at those streaks of silver, I am reminded of the lessons I have learned earning those stripes. Like military badges of honor, that is how I look at those graying hairs.

But the truth is that I am getting older and have arrived at that stage called middle age—and I wonder how did I get here? I can tell by some of my scars that it has been a rocky road at times. There are broken bones that didn’t heal well…stitches that left their marks…and there are eyes needing ever-increasing corrective lenses. My ears are not as good as they once were. All the aches and pains of life’s wear and tear…I feel them acutely. Predicting weather changes because of the pain in the joints or even headaches that come in advance of the storms are new skills that I would happily trade for a body that does not betray. And I think the reality of my visible evidence of aging is frightening for my daughter. She sees and understands the temporal lives we live. She knows that death is a very real part of life, and that makes her afraid.

Confronting our frailty is just one of the realities of life. We somehow float through decades of life, often unscathed. Then BAM. Age smacks you right between the eyes. But isn’t it funny that on the inside, I still feel like a kid. Young, running and swinging and jumping without a care. But that inward me is in conflict with the outward me. I think that is why I feel so betrayed by my body. To do all the silly things I did as a child without ever breaking ANYTHING…and now, walking down a hill slowly is a frightening exercise…will I fall? What’s going to break this time? I can tell you I do NOT like living in fear of breaking something. I don’t like living in fear of any kind at all. Fear robs me of strength and peace.

Yesterday, I had the special opportunity to visit with a dear friend I had not seen in over 10 years. In that time she became a mother to four little boys and I became a grandmother to 4, going on 5, grandchildren. As we caught up on our lives over the years since we last saw each other, it was interesting to realize what a place fear had held in each of our lives as we walked through some very dark periods.

The source of our fear was different, but how interesting that the solution to the fear was the same. During those times of overwhelming darkness, we found our solace in the word of God. She shared that with her second pregnancy (twins) and then with her fourth child, she struggled with pre-term contractions throughout the pregnancies. Her fear of premature labor was very real. And she did not like the effect fear was having in her life. To try to combat her fear, she looked up every passage she could find on fear. Many verses she committed to memory.

Then, when she was eight months pregnant, she and her husband were involved in a serious car accident. She suffered many broken bones and a punctured lung. She did not feel her baby move for hours. During those hours, she was comforted by the verses she had already studied on fear. She had a ready refuge of peace. She was in the hospital for a week then in a rehab facility for another week. When the time came to deliver her son, her leg was in a cast. (Can you imagine giving birth with a cast on your leg?) But she had all those verses treasured in her heart, bound to her memory and ready to draw on any time she needed their reassuring encouragement.

I told her about my own period of darkness. How my husband and I waited for a miracle. Or braced ourselves for devastating news. So many months of sleepless nights. I would awaken at 2 or 3 AM and all I could do was read my Bible…for hours…soaking in the peace and comfort written over and over. Seeing God’s faithfulness revealed time after time.  Those hours spent in the Word got me through each day, and then I  would repeat cycle again. Every day for many, many months.

My friend and I agreed that it was in those darkest hours, days, weeks and months that we experienced the greatest spiritual growth. Our problems were bigger than we were and we did not have the solution in our own strength. But God did, and true to His promises, He brought each of us a peace that passed our understanding. We didn’t pretend that we didn’t have fear. We acknowledged the fear and put it in its rightful place. Underneath the perfect love Christ freely gives us.

Today, she has four healthy boys. And she knows real peace.

Today I have the evidence of God’s hand at work in creating the miracle for which we prayed. And peace has replaced my fear.

Tell me, are you afraid? Can I offer you the Source of Peace?

I Peter 3:13-15

Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubledbut sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;

 

Ephesians 2:13-16

But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity… so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace,and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross…

 

Please Stand By…

Don’t you hate it when you experience technical difficulties? I do. Probably more because it reveals how easily annoyed I can be…by the most insignificant things.

Like…cleaning the bathroom thoroughly on a Saturday morning as a kid, only to have your dad come in and wash his hands after mowing the lawn and changing the oil in the car…Can you imagine? All the hard work, literally down the drain. You think I jest? Oh no, just ask my dad…

Or what about mopping your floors, getting a mirror-like shine and then have your dearly beloved children or grandchildren or most loved husband walk through with mucky shoes? No? Never happened? I believe you lie…

For me, the bigger annoyances are sitting down to write my post, that my readers are truly panting to read, only to be kicked off the internet. Over. And over. And over…

My need to save money is pretty deep. But my need for consistent internet access is deeper. So I fired my provider, and switched to a new provider. And you know what? I haven’t been kicked off all week. And I have been able to upload pictures SUPER FAST…So I am giving my blog a new try.

I had to make a sacrifice, though. Because I still had to save some money. So…I got rid of cable tv…No more extra channels. No more tv shopping…(yeah, never did those anyway)…no more DIY channels…Somehow, I think I will survive. Maybe.

Now I have a Roku device…Netflix, HuluPlus, Pandora…and a bunch of “channels” I have yet to explore. And you know what? I didn’t turn on the tv for viewing at all for a few days…I chose to just to listen to my purely customized radio stations on Pandora. I missed watching the FIFA World Cup, but…honestly I think we will manage JUST FINE without those channels. After all, I can catch up on Monarch of the Glen…or the English version of Sherlock…all those old movies…

But all those internet problems did get me thinking about technical difficulties, bad connections and other things that can frustrate us, and it made me think about what happens when I don’t have a clear connection in my relationships. If you have ever experienced technical problems, you probably checked the cables to assure that they were properly connected. You also probably checked the batteries, or the power button or a host of other possibilities. And then you checked the manual or called customer service to speak with an “expert” to “troubleshoot.” (I always like the “check to make sure the power is on” tip.)

So if my relationship with God is not what it should be, where do I turn? Interesting that there is an expert and a manual to address the problems I  experience. I can almost always connect my problems in my spiritual life to a common source…Me. I may ignore the relationship, perhaps I do not feed it a healthy diet, or maybe I have covered up sin rather than confess it…Basically, I disconnect myself from the Source.

It’s not that God abandons ME, but rather I abandon Him. I live my life unplugged (NOT like music) and do things on my own power rather than relying on His power. He offers me a static-free, always ON connection to an endless and abundant source. So why do I fail to use that Source? Why, after so many examples and assurances of His presence and faithfulness do I so easily forget? I do not have an answer to the question that is revolutionary. But, when I am withdrawn and cold, I know that it is worth checking on how secure my connection is to avoid more connectivity issues. And that means getting in an uncomfortable position…on my knees.

Tell me, are YOU plugged in securely to the true Source of life?

I Peter 1:3-9 (ESV)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,  so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.