I have never been a fan of reptiles!
Panama is the home to some of the most frightening snakes on the planet. Our corner of the dense Darien jungle was full of boa constrictors, pit vipers, fer-de-lance (this snake bears 60 live babies at a time!), etc. We were cautious not to poke under rocks or fallen branches, always scanning for any slithering menaces. Behind our house there was a massive tree that extended its immense roots out into the river shoreline where the girls and I bathed and swam. The thick mangrove swamp harbored snakes that would lie in the hollow places of the trunk of that tree.
More than once I cried out Psalm 16:1
“Keep me safe, Oh Lord, for in you I take refuge.”
Fear is no stranger to me. I am habitually challenged to walk through the door of fear. I was told during Missionary boot camp that courage was not the absence of fear, but the conquest of it. Years ago, while reading “Hind’s Feet in High Places” I had no difficulty in identifying with “Little Much Afraid”!
“The highway of fear is the shortest route to defeat”. William L. Brownell
Ralph had built a screened-in back porch to the house. It became home for our gasoline-run wringer washing machine. The Indians thought the machine was the most ridiculous apparatus they had ever seen! It was noisy, the water had to be carried from the river (or in rainy season, we could utilize the convenience of the rain barrels attached to the tin roof). The agitator was a mystery…why would you jerk clothes around in dirty cold water when the river is running and clear? However; the wringer was another story…it worked really well. Hand wrung clothes could not match that wringer! I had to agree with them on all counts!
While I washed, Kim would play on a blanket or crawl around the porch. The floor was slightly elevated, lined with wooden planks roughly cut and loosely fit together. It was not quite finished and as I washed, I saw Kim crawling toward something moving under the slats. I turned off the deafening machine, snatched Kim up into my arms and yelled for Ralph! Right under our feet, only a few inches away, was a 5’ venomous snake! He had quite possibly been a houseguest for “who knows how long” before we noticed him!
Let me repeat…I am not a fan!!
Arturo, our nearest neighbor had heard me scream and came running, He quickly surveyed our predicament, raised his machete and removed the head of that reptile with one swift blow. He held it up like a prized Marlin…its length was above his head and its tail draped to the muddy ground!
This story could have had a much different ending, were it not for our Sovereign God, His plan and the life-lessons He was busy teaching me! School is always in session, if we have eyes to see it. The need to grow and mature will never end on this side of eternity. Fear has been my biggest challenge. I am to fear the consequence of sin, not snakes. Easy concept until put to the test!
“Be strong and of a good courage, Fear not, nor be afraid of them (in this case…snakes); for the Lord your God, He it is that does go with me, He will not fail me nor forsake me.” Deuteronomy 31: 16
What do you fear?
~Jackie Johnson - I am a former tribal missionary to the Kuna Indians on the Colombian border in Central America. Fluent in several languages, my husband and I currently pastor a Spanish-speaking church in Southern California. My passion is discipling and equipping dedicated young women for life, marriage, motherhood, and beyond. I am the mother of two daughters and the grandmother of three Princesses and four young Knights.