by Erica Wiggenhorn
“…Put out your hand and catch it by the tail…” Exodus 4:4 ESV
When our kids were little, they used to love to catch lizards. Living in Arizona, we’d come across a slithering Lizzy nearly every time we went outside. One morning, my daughter rescued a two-inch-long baby lizard from the swimming pool. She tenderly placed it into a 9-by-13-inch Tupperware container and set it on the edge of the patio table in the sunlight.
My three-year-old son, who moved only at the speed of light (yet without the same level of precision), accidentally knocked the container over, and in a rapid attempt to grab the baby lizard, inadvertently stepped on her, crushing her instantly. In utter horror over his mistake, he ran away and hid under his bed, sobbing, fearing the wrath of his sister.
About a week later I went into Nathan’s room to put his laundry away. When I opened his sock drawer, I immediately reeled from a horrific odor. What in the world was buried underneath those Superman socks? I spread them around and discovered a neatly folded paper towel with something inside. Squashed Lizzy.
“I thought maybe if we could bury Lizzy, then Sissy might not be so mad,” he explained. But when you’re three years old, sometimes you forget your well-intentioned plans. And Lizzy rots in your sock drawer.
Nathan initially responded to fear over his failure by running away. Then he hid that fear in a drawer, meaning to deal with it later, but forgetting to do so. Moses did the same thing. He enacted his personal Operation Deliverance by killing an Egyptian overseer. It didn’t work out as planned, so he fled to Midian. He ran away.
Since he hadn’t moved on from Midian in forty years, I’m going to assume that Moses buried his failure in his sock drawer or his tent trunk, or whatever, also. But as the smell from Nathan’s sock drawer proved, running away never makes it go away.
Moses recounts to God what happened the last time he tried to convince the people of Israel that he was supposed to deliver them. “Then Moses answered, ‘But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’” (Exodus 4:1 ESV).
Moses fears the people will not accept him as the chosen deliverer sent by God. He is certain they will question his calling and his capabilities. God forces Moses to face his fear head-on as He performs the miracle of turning the staff into a snake.
But look at Moses’ reaction and see what God tells him to do:
The Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A staff.” And he said, “‘Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent, and Moses ran from it. But the Lord said to Moses, “Put out your hand and catch it by the tail”—so he put out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand—“that they may believe that the Lord . . . has appeared to you.” Exodus 4:2–5 ESV
Through this sign, God taught Moses that not only could God empower him to face his fear; He could also equip Moses to conquer and subdue it. God did not turn the serpent back into a staff while Moses stood at a distance and watched. Once Moses fled from the snake, he had to turn around and return to the place of fear, snatch the serpent with his hand, and subdue it. To conquer our fear and see God’s power over it, we have to face it. Running away only makes us more fearful.
What opportunities, circumstances or situations do you avoid out of fear of inadequacy or rejection? It’s time to grab it by the tail and squash it in your fist. Running away will never make it go away. If God has placed this person or position in your path, maybe it’s time to stop running, turn around, and face your fear. When the enemy slithers close, silence those hisses with the truth that your God knows the playbook. Even moments of rejection hold purpose.
And that failure you’ve tucked away in your sock drawer that you meant to deal with and then forgot? It’s time to give Squashed Lizzy a proper burial.
Today’s devotional is an excerpt from Erica’s new book from Moody Publishers, Letting God Be Enough: Why Striving Keeps You Stuck and How Surrender Sets You Free.
This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speaker Association (AWSA).
About the author: Erica Wiggenhorn is an award–winning author and the founder of Every Life Ministries, bringing you the truth of Scripture to Transform Your Life. A international Bible teacher, She loves to bring God’s Word to women’s conferences, church retreats, and those seated around her own kitchen table.
If you struggle with nagging thoughts of self-doubt, Erica Wiggenhorn wants to lead you to freedom. In Letting God be Enough, she draws from the story of Moses—the greatest self-doubter in the Bible—and shows how self-doubt is tied closely to self-reliance. It’s only when you cast yourself on God that you find the true source of strength.
Join the conversation: What fear incites avoidance for you?