Over five years ago, Matt was hospitalized with some sort of staff infection in his right foot. It was a freak illness that came on suddenly and gave Scott and I quite a scare, especially since the doctors could not figure out exactly what it was or where it came from. Thankfully, up until that point Matthew had never even been to a hospital. The experience was less than fun for our otherwise healthy 11-year-old. Thankfully, after a week of IV antibiotics (and alot of prayer), the infection cleared up enough for Matt to be released from the hospital, and the infection has never returned.
During the preliminary ER visit and subsequent hospital stay, we realized that Matt shared a condition with his father…Belonephobia (otherwise know as, fear of needles). Once the IV was in place, he was ok. But when it was time for the IV to come out so he could go home, fear gripped him. There was nothing I could do to convince him that it would be ok. After exhausting all of my typical negotiation tactics and bribery methods, I prayed for God to help me find a way to convince my son that removing his IV would not hurt. The only answer I got was, “Face your fear.” So, I asked Matt what he thought my biggest fear was. His immediate answer: “Snakes.” I said, “You’re right. And if you will face your fear and let these nice nurses remove your IV, I will face my fear and hold a snake.” I could hardly believe the words were coming out of my mouth. But they did. And for some reason, those words were enough to convince Matt to let the nurses remove his line.
That was almost six years ago. Life rolled on, and there never seemed to be just the right time to figure out how to make this happen, how to fulfill this promise I made to my son. We joked around about it for the first year or two, but after that, Matt seemed to just forget. It’s not like I had planned on NOT following through on my promise, but the more time that passed, the easier it was to forget. Until about a month ago.
At a recent worship gathering at our church, out of nowhere I remembered the promise I had yet to fulfill to Matt. I knew that God was telling me, “time to face your fear, girlie.” What?! Why? Why now? Matt had totally forgotten and everything was fine. Why in the world was God bringing this moment of parental failure up now?
I have some idea, and it had more to do with me than with Matt. For as long as I can remember, I have struggled with fear. Big fears and little fears. Fear of the known and the unknown. Fear of how my decisions will affect others and how theirs will affect me. Most of my fears are completely irrational and unsubstantiated and have nothing to do with the truth of the gospel. I shutter to think of all the times I have allowed Satan to have his way with my mind, sending me into a spiral of negativity and fear that cripples me and keeps me from experiencing the love of Christ. But God is using his Word, my husband and the community of believers around me to help break this cycle of fear in my life. God is calling me to face my biggest fears, and in the process He is showing me that his perfect love casts out fear.
So, I held a snake. And my sweet son took this picture of me holding the snake. I almost threw up, but I did it. I fulfilled my promise to my son and faced my fear, and God is continually fulfilling his promises to me. He will not leave me or forsake me. He is my helper. He gives me his peace in times of trouble and helps me to not be afraid. Even though there is much trouble in the world, I can take heart because God has already overcome it in Christ Jesus. His perfect love casts out fear.
By the way, don’t let the smile on my face fool you…I’m still terrified of snakes (as any rational human being should be :) and I do not encourage or condone any type of snake handling. But God helped me (and is helping me) face my fear, and I can’t help but think that he was smiling down on me, just like Matt was while he was taking this picture. :)
So, what are you afraid of?
*Special thanks to the kind, patient employees at The Tye Dyed Iguana for helping me face my fear. The snake I am holding is a baby Ball Python which is non-poisonous breed, although still terrifying. No snakes were harmed in the facing of my fear.