When I was a child, I had a recurring dream of snakes in my bed! Often I begged my parents to let me sleep in their bed, or I slept with the covers pulled tightly over my head. As an adult, when I finally understood why my childhood bed wasn’t a safe place, I realized it had nothing to do with snakes (at least not literal ones). My fear was due to an older brother who walked in his sleep and visited my bedroom at night.
In the Garden of Eden, evil was symbolized by a snake who seduced Eve to disobey God through its cunning and trickery. My brother wasn’t a snake, of course, but he was indeed cunning. In the beginning, the tactic he used to control me was fear. Recently, I discovered someone in the Bible who also had a fear of snakes. You can read Moses’ story beginning in Exodus 2.
As a baby, Moses was adopted into the Egyptian royal family. As a young adult, he apparently realized he was of Hebrew descent, and killed an Egyptian whom he saw beating a Hebrew slave. When a witness confronted Moses, he fled to the desert to escape the king’s wrath. Just imagine what it must have been like to leave a royal lifestyle behind and to become a shepherd hiding out on the backside of a desert. The scriptures tell us in Genesis 46:33 that “shepherds are detestable to Egyptians,” and that’s exactly what Moses became to his royal family.
No doubt, Moses probably felt some measure of relief hiding out in the desert, but God’s idea of freedom was very different. It included release from emotional and spiritual bondage in addition to a change of scenery. Moses met God in the desert at a burning bush. God called Moses to lead the Hebrew people out of Egyptian slavery. When Moses doubted himself and questioned whether the Hebrews would believe his story, God told him to throw his staff on the ground, and it became a snake! Moses ran from it. Who wouldn’t, right? I can so relate! So many times I have run from, minimized, or denied things I feared just as Moses did.
The amazing thing is Moses eventually stopped running long enough to listen to God. God instructed him to pick the snake up by its tail! When he obeyed, the snake became a staff in his hand again. It’s important to notice the symbolism here. I believe Moses’ staff symbolized his brokenness after all that he had lost, and the snake represented the fears and self-contempt that resulted. Surprisingly, the means to overcome his fear was found through embracing his brokenness. Common sense told Moses to pick the snake up by its head, thereby retaining some sense of control, but God said to grab the snake by its tail! When Moses trusted God enough to risk obeying Him implicitly, his fears were transformed into a useful instrument of faith. A staff, which once represented his humiliation and loss, now was used to display God’s power to conquer evil and to set both Moses and his people free from generations of bondage!
Rather than running from our fears, we are wise to pause and allow God to show us the next step toward freedom as Moses did. As we respond to God’s wisdom instead of insisting we already know best, He delivers us from our own personal bondage and empowers us to help others in the process. It is also interesting to note that God gave Moses specific, step-by-step directions. Deliverance was a process dependent upon obedience to individual steps. As a grandmother, I no longer fear snakes in my bed at night. However, I’m still listening and seeking to obey God as He reveals additional steps on this journey of recovery from the brokenness of childhood sexual abuse. I’m so grateful for His patience and love!
As you stop to consider your own story, what are you afraid of right now? What is God saying to you in response to those fears? Are there specific steps He is asking you to take toward freedom? Ask Him to show you. Please feel free to share your thoughts or experiences in the reply section below.