Overcoming Fear

The beautiful weather during the first two days during Spring Break allowed the Boykins to get outside and do some much needed yardwork ... cutting, cleaning, weeding, trimming, etc.  Anita and I were surveying a planter that our boys constructed a few years back, pondering what should be planted in it this year, and Anita asked if I could reach down and pull up one of last year's old dead plants.  I quickly responded, reached down toward the plant, but promptly jumped back about 5 feet when the snake started slithering away from that plant. 

If you don't much about me, know this ... I'm completely horrified of snakes, literally can't touch one dead or alive.  I've always been afraid of snakes.  Grew up in a small town and enjoyed much time in the woods and around ponds, streams, lakes, etc. and had encounters with all sorts of snakes - rattlesnakes, water moccasins, copperheads, and all the non-venomous ones as well ... and each encounter terrified me.  My fear of snakes is more like a phobia ... an anxiety disorder that controls me.  Anyway, back to the story. 

After my pulse eventually slowed down and I was able to venture back over to the planter area, we looked around a bit and there he was again.  I decided to call Tanner to come over and do something about this creature.  He was going to put it in a bucket and take it away into the woods but when he tried the snake escaped down into a hole between the dirt and concrete patio.  I assumed this was his home. 

To test that theory I went out the next afternoon to that same spot and sure enough, right there to meet me again was this serpent.  But in that moment I concluded that I should probably allow that snake to exist peaceably there.  I've always known (intellectually) that non-venomous snakes are nothing to worry about; that, in fact, they are most helpful in controlling rodents.  But it wasn't until this moment on my patio that I could emotionally allow one to co-exist in the same zip code where I live.  So we now have a new friend living under our patio who will occasionally make his way out to say "hey" to us.  To be clear, I'm still not going to touch it and if it crosses into my territory I'll kill it, but right now I'm going to allow it to reside there. 

Why the change?  Am I compromising my long-term belief that "the only good snake is a dead snake."?  Have I concluded that "tolerance" is now the correct position to take with everything?  Have I watched too much Animal Planet on TV and become all sympathetic with animal life?  No ... none of those are the reasons.  The only thing I can come up with is this ... I just don't want to be controlled by this fear any longer.  Fear determines so much of what I've historically done and not done ... fear of rejection, failure, humiliation, difficultly, suffering, ridicule, losing, etc.  And while I'm not saying that I've overcome all this, perhaps its an indication of a small step in the sanctification process, that maybe God is producing some real positive fruit in my life.  Maybe I will begin to risk a little embarrassment for the sake of sharing the Gospel with someone; maybe I can now press on with some ministry initiatives without the fear of failure; maybe I will begin to more boldly serve others and not fear the difficultly factor. 

What's your fear?  What are you afraid of when it comes to boldly living out the Gospel?  What are you afraid will happen if you wholeheartedly commit yourself to Christ and His church?  Whatever your fear might be, are you tired of being controlled by it?  God can produce some real change in your heart.  If God can produce the change in my heart that allows a snake to peaceably live under my patio He can change anything about me.  He can work that same grace in your heart today!!