Fear and the 5-Foot SnakeFind out why Kimberly Rae is grateful for finding a huge snake hanging in her closet!
Living in third world countries as a missionary, I’ve been blocks away from shooting and bombing, been in a rickshaw on the road when a riot started, and I’ve seen a robbery at knifepoint. But nothing compared with the day I found a 5-foot snake in my closet.
We were living in tropical Southeast Asia. In the two years we had been there, we’d experienced plenty of rats, mosquitoes and lizards in our home, but I had never seen a snake, even outside.
That week my husband was in another part of the country. I was at home. My Asian friend Naomi was there too. I went into my bedroom and opened my wardrobe to find an article of clothing.
I opened the door and accidentally touched something that felt… well, yucky.
I jumped back, then ran to the other side of the room. When I turned around, the snake hadn’t moved. It was just hanging in the wardrobe like a long belt.
What in the world?
My first thought was that it was plastic, and my husband had hung it there as a joke. Why else would it just be hanging there?
So I sent him a text message:
“DID YOU PUT A SNAKE IN MY CLOSET??? YOU KNOW I’M TERRIFIED OF SNAKES!!”
He called me right away. No, he didn’t put a snake in my closet. He wouldn’t do that, knowing how scared I am of them.
As nice as it was to hear that my husband was not that insensitive, my next thought was, Uh-oh, that means that’s a real snake!
So now what was I supposed to do?
I wasn’t brave enough to touch it again, so I left the room and went to find my friend Naomi. “There’s a snake in my closet!” I said.
Naomi followed me back into the room. When she saw the snake, she reacted about the same way I had, then went across the street and asked a neighbor for help. The neighbor came, looked at the snake, and asked if I had any salt.
I got some salt, gave it to him, and he threw it at the snake.
I didn’t know what was supposed to happen. So we all stood there for a moment, staring.
Naomi wanted our neighbor to take a stick and just kill the thing.
“I can’t kill it,” he said. “I’m a Muslim.”
Well, you’re a big help,I wanted to say.
Eventually he got a stick, and with it captured a hanger, shirt and snake, and dragged the whole mess outside. There we discovered the snake was dead. Apparently it had slithered through a small label in one of my shirts, and when it tried to get back out and couldn’t, it basically choked itself to death.
This was a matter of great interest. Soon the neighborhood kids came to see and poke the dead snake. Later a friend asked if he could take it home.
“Sure,” I told him. I certainly didn’t want to eat it.
Eventually, I found out why my neighbor wasn’t allowed to kill snakes. Muslims in our country fear that evil spirits sometimes take the form of snakes, and your children might be cursed if you kill one near your home.
The way to tell if it’s really just a snake? Throw salt on it. If it moves, it’s a real snake. If it doesn’t move, it’s an evil spirit.
Now, whether my snake visitor was an evil spirit or not, I’ll never know. What I do know, though, is that one of my worst fears had found its way into my room. And we never did find any hole big enough for a snake to get inside.
That night, as I got ready to go to bed, I should have been terrified. Did my snake have any friends or family out looking for him? Would another one come?
It would have been normal and reasonable to feel genuinely afraid. But, amazingly, I wasn’t. I, who am terrified of snakes, and had been struggling with fear in general since my husband had left town; I was not afraid.
Why not? The danger was real. That snake had been slithering around in my bedroom while I was sleeping, blissfully unaware. Why not be afraid?
The reason was simple. By God allowing the very thing I feared into my life, He showed me in a real way that He is my Protector. He is taking care of me. No matter how helpless I am, I never need to be afraid.
God sent that snake into my closet and told it to hang itself. If God would do that for me, what did I have to be afraid of?
I have heard that God tells us 365 times in His Word not to fear—one for each day of the year. When God says something once, it is inspired. When He says it several times, it must be important. If He says something over 300 times, I’m guessing that means He really, really does not want us to fear.
Why? Because fear is the opposite of faith. Fear means we don’t think God is big enough, or strong enough, or cares enough to do what is best for us. Believers living in fear are misrepresenting God to the world. And they are missing out on the abundant life Jesus intended for all of us.
God doesn’t want His kids going through life afraid. He wants us to trust Him in faith. At first, faith is often a conscious choice. I make the choice to trust God, by faith, and then let God take care of my feelings. When I do find myself afraid, a good verse to quote out loud is Psalm 56:3 (NLV): “When I am afraid, I will trust in You.”
Then I remind myself that my God is bigger and more powerful than anything that comes my way. Nothing takes Him by surprise, and nothing makes Him afraid. Not even a 5-foot long snake—and any friends he happens to have!