BY: JAN ANTONSSON
SEPTEMBER 28, 2013
September 28, 2013
“The great dragon was hurled down, that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.” (Rev. 12:9)
I’ve been in what feels like a life and death struggle with fear the past ten days or so. What I have to share is something like what we used to call a “shaggy dog” story. It’s a story about fear, which really is the cancer of the soul, robbing us of joy and any chance of living an overcoming life. My whole family has been plagued with various fears, which is one reason I jumped for joy when Jesus baptized me in the Spirit a long time ago now. After that, I felt like I had power to defeat the enemy (fear) in my life. Now that I’m old, I see that God has often used my fears to show me His sovereignty over all things.
Like my mother and grandmother before me, I’m terribly snake phobic. It only takes a little reptile to bring a shriek from my lips and a quick retreat. That’s silly, you say? It really is and irritating as well, but just a fact of life with me. It doesn’t have to be a hissing cobra or a diamondback rattlesnake coiled ready to strike to set me off, but just a harmless little garter snake has the same effect. How can it be harmless if it affects me so negatively? Elevated blood pressure, rattled nerves, and the need to run away fast are some of the symptoms.
What happened was about 3 weeks ago, I found a tiny dead snake in my kitchen. It was so small I had to get close to be sure it really was a snake. Our kitty Tom had been nosing around it and I figured he had killed it. I got the usual snake sighting symptoms: heightened awareness, hair standing up on the back of my neck, and nerves, nerves, nerves. Where did it come from?
The farm house is old, built in 1945. There’s a steep stairway going down to the basement from the utility room and Tom likes to go down and sit by the basement door. I thought maybe this little thing had slithered under the crack in the door, and he had dragged it up to the kitchen. So, I stuffed tin foil in all the places I could find where something might get under.
A few days later, I found a dead lizard in the utility room (next to the kitchen). Its tail was gone and it was lying on its back. Cats love to separate lizard kind from their tails and so I figured Tom had been at work here.
Time rocked on and there were no more events until last Thursday, when I went into the utility room and encountered a tiny live snake, same kind as the dead one: all black with a bright gold band around its neck. I shrieked, but never took my eyes off it, knowing that if I did, the critter would disappear and I’d never get another peaceful breath wondering when it would appear again.
Daddy’s old wooden cane was on the banister of the stairs going down to the basement, so I grabbed it and beat the snake to death. Please don’t e-mail me about being mean to reptiles, or report me to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Snakes because in this case, it was being cruel to me.
I didn’t think this one could have gotten in through the basement door, but when I opened the door to the little freezer room, I saw that there were several places that reptiles and insects could get in from the outside. My son-in-law told me how to plug those holes with expanding foam on the outside, and a friend helped me duct tape the inside of the little room.
Meanwhile all during this time, I had been convinced that my computer was about to gasp its last, and that would be a tragedy for me because the new MacBook Pro computers use a different operating system than this one does, and I would not be able to access all the writings that were done on Apple Works 6.
My goal is to transpose all the writings from the Apple software to Microsoft Office Word, which I began to do. There were about three years of unpublished journals in my computer and I proceeded to put them in Word format.
I had written a great deal about the Garden of Eden and the fall of man. You can’t go there without encountering the serpent which beguiled Eve with Satan’s lies. Is that where snake phobias actually spring from I wondered?
During this time, the Holy Spirit was all over me most of the time. He manifests on my body like an electrical current and that happened every time I went through the utility room. I prayed for God to love away my fear and He always has before, but this time, I had huge problems finding relief from man’s ancient enemy: fear. I HATE walking in fear just hate it.
The piece I published last Sunday made mention of the snake. Here’s the rhymed couplet:
“All went well until God sent the snake
To help Adam and Eve the next step to take.”
Bingo, I thought, God is telling me that there’s a next step I must take. But what could it be? Every time I would pass through the utility room or even just think about it, the Holy Spirit would zoom around my body and I knew that this is important. But what is it?
Fast forward the tape to this morning. Harry and his wife Jeri Fox and I have visited every Saturday morning for over 16 years now. Harry is a treasure trove of Gospel Good News and Jeri has the intuitive ability to uncover the hidden shadows in our psyche. They are a powerful team and have helped me over the years more than I could ever put into words.
I was telling them my “shaggy snake” story, and remarked that the serpent in the Garden of Eden had become a horrific, frightening, death breathing dragon by the book of Revelation, but the good news is that he was defeated. I love this text. It is thrilling:
“Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.” How? “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the WORD OF THEIR TESTIMONY.” (Rev. 12:10-11)
Yes, I know that Revelation is a book of symbols, all of which are the revelation of Jesus Christ Himself, and that’s OK. Sometimes, picturing our fears as a dragon seeking to devour us is the only thing that really tells it like it feels. It is wonderful to know that Satan, that old dragon, is defeated by the blood of the Lamb and the Word of our testimony. All we have to share with each other is our testimony, and God’s love flowing through us out to the world.
As Harry and Jeri and I talked on, Harry made the connection I’ve been looking for. He said, “Now you see that the great and terrible dragon pictured in Revelation is really just a tiny, harmless little snake.” Bells rang, whistles blew, angels shouted “Hallelujah,” and I knew that what God is telling me with this tiny serpent in my utility room is that fear is defeated in me. Fear is “a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing” (Macbeth, act 5 scene 5). Fear can still strut and fret its fitful hour upon my stage, but it is, as Shakespeare put it, “a tale told by an idiot.”
I’m not overlooking the next step, but whatever it is, God wanted me to know I don’t have to fear it because He is holding my hand as I walk through it.
Father, You are amazing, wonderful, bountiful, glorious, powerful, and loving. We thank You for taking us into Your bosom and holding us close as we deal with our lives. May the Light of the world shine through us to all we meet as we tell them the incredibly Good News that OUR GOD REIGNS. Hallelujah! Amen