It was the first of many hot days of the summer. I was taking Ellie’s tri-cycle into the garage, and there it was, wrapped around the garden hose. Fear shot through my body. All I could do was stand there and stare with a plastic rake in my hand. I wanted so badly to run or at least just let it be. The only thing that kept me from running was the larger fear of something bad happening to Ellie. Ellie is so helpless, innocent, and unaware of the many dangers in the world. Her need for safety made me want to stand strong and believe that I could and had to protect her. Something happens in you when others depend on you.
I stabbed at the snake with the handle end of the rake… hit but no damage done. The snake moved out of my reach and between the deck box that housed all my grill accessories that Dylan got me on my first Father’s Day. So there I stood, glancing back at my neighbor’s house, hoping desperately to see my neighbor walk out and notice me squaring off with this threat to my family. I knew I needed something other than a rake handle, but all I could think of was a hammer, which would have put me too close for comfort. So, not being Thor, I went into the garage to find an adequate weapon. All I found were hedge clippers. Not ideal, but better than a hammer. My plan was to flush out the snake with the rake handle and somehow whack off the head with the loppers. Just as I was about to thrust the rake under the deck box, I hear, “What ‘cha got?” It was my neighbor, Jeff. Although I was too proud to say I needed help, I said “A copperhead or a rattlesnake.” I was about 80% sure it was one of the two.
“Need some help?” He asked. I gulped down my pride and replied.
I kept my post and Jeff and his brother, Joey, emerged with a shovel. A shovel! Of course! Why didn’t I think of that? Shame suddenly overtook my fear, and I felt silly for not thinking of a shovel.
“I have a square tipped shovel, will that help?” I asked. Why did I ask that? Just go and get it! Again I felt dumb, like an inexperienced, sheltered sissy. I got my shovel and courage and came back to a crowd watching from Jeff’s back deck. As I was leaving to get the shovel I heard Joey say, “Let’s make sure it’s poisonous before we kill it,” re-affirming my fear that they would pull back the box only to find a harmless garden snake and a sissy holding a rake. But deep down I knew it was poisonous. Joey pulled back the box and his reaction gave me confirmation that I was right. Jeff was the first one in and stabbed at the snake, but it dodged and squirmed into the corner. I went for it, aiming for nothing, but luckily pinning down the body.
“There you go!” called out Jeff.
“Get its head!” cheered Joey.
Jeff chopped at the snake’s head, removing all potential danger from the creature. Relief! Victory! Accomplishment! Self-Worth! All surfaced because I had played a part in the slaying of the beast and the protection of my family.
This event revealed a lot about me. The competing fears of safety for myself and the safety of my family are significant. My desire to run and hide from those fears are real. My pride that prevents me from asking for help and fears of being seen as weak influence how I respond to everyday situations. But God knows me, and He has me. He sends help in my weakness, and in that weakness, I find strength. Facing the snake was so much easier and less scary with two experienced snake killers at my side. They knew exactly what tools to use. I just had to admit I needed help.
The challenges and fears of going to Costa Rica are many. I fear failure, not being enough, or just not being up to the task. But I am confident that the God who goes before me has crushed the Snake’s head and is calling us out of fear and into freedom.