Last week I shared the story of Nicky and her adventure with Spidzilla.
I was asked to share what I was afraid of after last week’s post. And I’m not too proud to talk about it, but just proud enough that I resisted writing about it. It’s sort of hard to undo once written.
But I relented… So… here’s my story.
It’s been close to fifteen years ago. Dad, myself, and a few other guys were out frogging at night. Now, I have a lot of exceptional memories of my Dad and me hunting and fishing together. But frogging? Not so much.
It wasn’t the company. It wasn’t that frogging happens after dark. It isn’t the wading in thigh deep water and not knowing what’s under the water. That doesn’t even bother me.
I hate them. If I can hate something and still get to heaven, please Lord, let it be snakes! I don’t think hate is a strong enough word. Despise? Loathe? None really captures what I feel when I see a snake. I guess what Nicky feels about spiders, I feel about snakes.
Now I have to explain how we were hunting them, so you understand the rest of the story. We’re all wading in the water with headlights strapped to our heads to shine the light down onto the water to reveal the frog eyes reflecting. My job was to pick the largest set of eyes and aim for that frog. Pretty simple.
The evening was going rather successfully! There were frog eyes reflecting my light all around. My bag was filling up with frogs and I was having a blast with my Dad.
Until I saw a set of eyes that didn’t look quite like frog eyes.
These eyes were much closer together. And too close to me. As I saw the eyes sort of raise up off the surface of the water, I saw what still sends shivers down my back, a tongue sort of just flip out and back, out and back.
Did you feel that? I just got a shiver.
If Peter was the first person to walk on water (other than Jesus), I became the second! I never moved so fast in my life. I was probably a hundred yards from the shore and I closed that one hundred yards, in high knee fashion, faster than Walter Payton at his finest!
I may have screamed like a little girl too. But we don’t talk of such things!
Fear can hold us, or move us
In Nicky’s encounter with Spidzilla, it was her fear of spiders that held her in place. With me, fear caused me to move. But in all seriousness, is one better than the other? Or maybe a better question is, are we supposed to be afraid or does fear show a lack of trust in God? What if fear is a motivator that causes us to lean into God all the more?
Let’s break this down for just a moment. Fear is an emotion brought on by a perceived danger or threat. It is created by God, just like our other emotions, and is truly meant to keep us safe. If I see a poisonous snake, fear prepares me for a fight-or-flight response. Either the snake loses its head or I run REALLY FAST! So fear isn’t all that bad. It keeps us safe.
Again, as in last week, perception is huge. What makes the difference is understanding what is presented to me. I understood the snake in front of me, with its little freaky tongue, as a danger and threat. So I ran. But was it really a threat to me? Was my life in some sort of danger? No, I don’t think so. It was only a little snake. I know my Dad wouldn’t take me into waters with poisonous snakes. But that’s not how I perceived it.
We can sometimes feel as though we’ve been led into thigh deep waters with vipers all around. Circumstances in our lives, tragedies, pandemics, fighting depression, emotions, addictions, uncertainty about the future, and doubts are all very real. But none of that happens outside the sovereign security of our Heavenly Father. You and I have a sovereign security in God. The psalmist expressed this confidently.
You will not be afraid of the terror by night, or of the arrow that flies by day; Psalm 91:5 NASB.
The reason the psalmist believes this is their confidence in a sovereign security expressed in the preceding verses.
One who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will lodge in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust! Psalm 91:1–2 NASB.
E.M. Bounds writes that,
Trust is faith become absolute, ratified, consummated. There is, when all is said and done, a sort of venture in faith and its exercise. But trust is a firm belief, it is faith in full flower. Trust is a conscious act, a fact of which we are sensible.
Trust is a conscious act, meaning it’s an act done deliberately that you are mindful of. When we are amid some of life’s worst circumstances, trust is a deliberate choice to lean even more into our Heavenly Father who is a fortress, a shelter, a safe place. When we do so, we find that while amid challenging times in our lives; we are completely safe as we deliberately choose to dwell in the shelter of the Most High.
One last note here before we move on. Just as there is a very real Heavenly Father, there is a very real demonic enemy in Satan. Both are fighting for your soul and you alone get to choose which one wins. The arrows that fly by day at you and the terror of night can be seen as the enemy’s attacks on you.
The arrows are attacks, lies, deceits, twisted words meant to cause you harm. And the terror of night? Sleeplessness affects pretty much every other area of our lives. We don’t think right nor act right when lacking in sleep. You are in good company if you’ve ever fought battles in your mind at night as you’re trying to sleep. I’ve been there. I’m familiar with the crushing weight of those thoughts of terror, what might be or what could be, or what is about to be. But even those are tactics of the enemy when perceived correctly.
You and I serve a Mighty God where we find our confident security, regardless what we face in life, be it snakes, spiders, or something more serious.
The frog hunt revisited
I looked around at the other guys after reaching shore. I was waiting to be poked a little for my reaction. They just kept on frogging. Maybe they didn’t notice. Maybe they didn’t want to make it a big deal. Whatever the case, I breathed a sigh of relief at that point. Not only was I now safe from the snake, I was also safe from the teasing that would undoubtedly happen from the preceding events. I looked out across the water and couldn’t find the snake. But seeing the other guys still out there gave me confidence to head back out into the water and finish a grand night with my Dad.
That’s my closing thought as we end our time together. Others see. They see your response. And they see you still out there. When they do, it’ll give them confidence that they can do the same, that when they face circumstances in life that seem overwhelming, they too can lean even more into the sovereign security of God. That’s a pretty cool thing if you ask me. By your example, you show others they too can be confident in the sovereign security of God.
Father, help us lean even more into you when we feel fearful. Let us deliberately dwell in Your shelter, finding refuge in Your security. It may feel that we are surrounded by vipers in thigh deep waters, but help us see that while it may feel like that, we are more surrounded by You, and that we are perfectly secure. We love you. Thank you for loving us. In Jesus’ name, we pray… Amen.