By the Tail

April 20, 2021 | Jaci Miller

“Touch it!” One of my elementary-age kids cheered. The field trip to a pet store had seemed a good summer outing for this class of busy youngsters. I loved encouraging and exploring new experiences with them. But now faced with touching this … this thing, I wondered if I should rethink my childcare philosophies.

All eyes turned to me. I had just encouraged them to be brave and try new things. Now, my turn to be brave had arrived. I couldn’t let the kids down. I steeled myself. Forced my hand out and touched the snake.

The store employee turned to the kids as they reached out their own hands to pet the creature.

Inwardly, I shuddered but maintained my composure.

As I reflect on that moment, I wonder how Moses felt in Exodus 4. God was preparing him to go back to Egypt to rescue the Israelites from slavery. Moses worried that the people wouldn’t believe him, so God provided him with a sign in verses two to four.

Then the Lord said to him, ‘What is that in your hand?’

“‘A staff,’ he replied.

“The Lord said, ‘Throw it on the ground.’

“Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it. Then the Lord said to him, ‘Reach out your hand and take it by the tail.’ So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand.”

Like me, Moses had his own snakey moment. Only the eyes watching him were God’s. No pressure there.

Now Moses had been a shepherd in this territory for 40 years. He surely had encountered a host of wildlife in his career, including snakes. He probably knew a thing or two about them. So, when he fled from the snake, we can probably assume the rationality of his fears.

Then God told him to take the snake in his hand. Not only that, He told Moses to take it by the tail.

What? In the same position, I’d prefer to grab that snake right behind its head, so it couldn’t whip around and bite me. This instruction seems so counter-intuitive. Yet despite his fears, Moses obeyed and picked up the snake.

God wasn’t just asking Moses to grab a snake’s tail, He was asking Moses to trust Him. And Moses chose to believe that the snake wouldn’t harm him.

“Mo,” I imagine God saying, “Mo, if I can be trusted with your life, I can be trusted with the lives of all your people. You can count on me to lead you through this next season.” 

The big, scary, hard task God was asking of Moses, began with a little, scary, hard task. God was preparing Moses for bigger things.

Does God still ask His people to grab the snake by the tail? To risk and trust when it might appear foolish? I believe so.

Grab the snake by the tail. Do the hard thing God asks of you. And prepare yourself for the amazing thing God is about to do.

How is God asking you to grab the snake by the tail in your life?


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