It was a perfect day for a hike. My husband picked out the trail, a 31-minute drive from our house. The rock pathway stretched out before us, inviting us to enjoy the beauty of nature. The sheered basalt cliffs framed the area on both sides. The trees, bushes, and flowers burst forth with the colors of spring. A creek meandered from the west, its water adding to the melody of the birds. Our excursion was out-of-this-world, a small taste of heaven.
Two men came walking toward us. They had finished their walk and were heading to the parking area. They stopped just after passing us with a warning. “We saw a rattler back there. She was coiled up near a rock. Looked like she was guarding some eggs. Better keep an eye out.”
My husband and I thanked them and continued walking. Nothing had changed about that idyllic setting, except everything had changed. The fear of encountering a fierce rattlesnake overshadowed my enjoyment. My spidey-senses (or should I say snakey-senses) were on high alert and my adrenaline went soaring.
It took every ounce of my strength to keep from calling quits on our outing. Each step felt like one step closer to disaster. Every rock was a rattlesnake lair. The tree roots were hiding places. The dried leaves were molted snake skin. Broken branches lying on the path were serpents.
Jonathan was in front of me on the lookout for danger, and I lagged further and further behind. In desperation, I quoted Scripture about God’s love being greater than fear. I even shouted out part of Mark 16. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well” (verses 17-18 NIV).
My pulse slowed. I breathed easier. And then, a snake crossed in front of Jonathan! I cried out in dismay. It was a harmless bull snake. Nonetheless, it launched me back into the cycle of fear.
As my body settled down yet again, I realized I was so focused on impending doom that I was missing out on the Creator’s artistry. I had been oblivious to the surrounding majesty. So, in spite of the fear, I forced my gaze upward to the trees and cliffs. I studied the water dancing along the creek bed. My soul drank deeply of the beauty. The sense of fear diminished as I paid more attention to God’s spectacular creation.
I wonder how often the fear of “what might be” robs us from experiencing the blessings God has for us right now. Do we miss out on the exciting possibilities of the future because we are paralyzed by dread? Perhaps the Lord has planted a vision in your heart for yourself or your family or your ministry. Don’t allow the potential risks to overwhelm you from taking the next steps of trusting obedience. This doesn’t mean you ignore danger signs but you must not allow them to deprive you of present and future joys.
If we encounter obstacles along the way (and we most likely will), it isn’t the time to quit. We must continue to trust the Lord to direct our steps towards His will, to walk in faith instead of fear.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life–of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take (Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT).