When I was a little girl, my parents kept a large garden in the backyard. They grew corn, beans, tomatoes, strawberries, lettuce, and more.
Among all that produce grew something else: garter snakes. I was petrified of those snakes, in spite of assurances from Mom and Dad that they could do me no harm
So what was my reaction if, while playing in the yard, I noticed the slightest bit of slithering? I RAN while emitting eardrum-splitting shrieks. No doubt those snakes took off just as rapidly in the opposite direction, but I never looked back to find out.
Those experiences make a good word-picture of my response when snakes of negativity, worry, or hurt feelings invade my mind. RUN!
James recommended exactly that: “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (4:7b).
But where should I run to? As a child, when seeking escape from the garter snakes, I often ran into the house, a safe and secure refuge. (Although I did have the occasional nightmare about smart snakes, who knew how to slither under doors and up stairs, so even the house wasn’t safe!)
As an adult, facing “snakes” of a different nature, where should I run?
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1).
That means, when my thoughts begin to turn to the negative, I need to run to God, my refuge of hope and help (Psalm 119:114).
When people speak or act unkindly and my emotions are bruised, I need to run to God, my refuge of comfort (Psalm 31:19-20).
When worry overtakes me, I need to run to God, my refuge of peace (Psalm 9:9).
Once my attention is focused on him, I must:
- Look into his eyes and see the great everlasting love he has for me (Jeremiah 31:3).
- Sense his strong arms around me, holding me close to his heart (Isaiah 40:11).
- Hear him reminding me of all his promises and all the times he has blessed me in the past.
- Taste his goodness (Psalm 34:8) in all the flavors of his attributes: power, wisdom, holiness, loving-kindness, grace, and more.
And what will be the end result? “Let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy” (Psalm 5:11a). That sure beats cowering, fretting, and flustering, doesn’t it?
Thank you, Father, for availing yourself to us as a refuge, a person-place we can run to for help, protection, and peace. We love you, O Lord, our strength, because you are our rock, our fortress, and our deliverer (Psalm 18:1). Thank you for caring for us, those who seek to trust in you (Nahum 1:7). May we avail ourselves of your gladness and joy rather than let the snakes of negativity, worry, or emotional hurt get the best of us!