Where most people had a family activity kit to fight boredom, I had scorpions in glass jars. Where other families had cans of beans and corn in the kitchen cupboards, I had baby bottles of these poisonous critters that are kin to spiders.
What had happened to me in the last half-dozen years in a place so tiny it wasn’t on the map? Had teaching here warped my brain? Had I crossed over from being horrified at the dense population of crawling and slithering things to planning the patio décor around them?
“This is Fred, one of our desert toads,” the maintenance man had pointed out on my first tour of the rural school grounds where I would work. Fred was a leathery pancake who had been stamped into eternity by the school bus. “Watch where you step! At night, they like to get warm on the sidewalks and the basketball court.” I visualized the players dribbling down the court trying to dodge the grapefruit-sized toads.
While others collected baseball cards, recipes, lost baby teeth, and belly button lint, my family became expert scorpion trappers. It was all in the interest of science. Our collection rivaled our principal’s of forty-two scorpions and thirty-one baby rattlesnakes. There wasn’t much to do without radio, T.V. or a telephone that worked more than a week.
All things were well with the live collection until cabin fever set in one Saturday during a sandstorm. Being stuck inside affected my twins, who normally played together for hours. Soon the loud thermometer of brotherly love rang out, “You’re not the boss of me!” and “You can’t play with my toys anymore!”
In the midst of the boys’ yelling, the cat knocked a bottle to the floor. The scorpion scurried out. One son dashed to the kitchen in his bare feet and fearlessly offered, “Mom, you want me to help catch him?”
The venomous critter zigzagged across the floor and I grabbed a jar and a tablespoon, hoping to catch the scorpion alive. “Just get out of the kitchen!”
I chased Sam Scorpion around with the tablespoon. I fought my fear with Isaiah 43:3 “You will not be scorched [‘or poisoned?’ I thought] when you walk through the fire, you will not be burned, for I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”
I was counting on that promise! As soon as I had Sam backed against the baseboard, he headed for the carpet. I cut him off at the pass with the bottle, but he turned and ran toward bare feet. I stepped in front of the scorpion, trapping him between my toes, the baseboard and the bottle. God came through. Soon Sam Scorpion was safe in his home.
The boys went back to playing with their toys. As I put Sam on the shelf, I thought I should be keeping cans of peaches and tomato sauce in the kitchen cabinets like all other normal families.
Then again, if I wanted to be normal, I would be living in a town that was actually on the map!
A few days ago, I had the honor of addressing a group of
women about overcoming fear and challenges. Many faced health issues that make age spots and cancer treatments look as small as a battle with acne. Some juggled scaling financial mountains and had earned a medal of honor for being a caregiver. When menopause struck and one figured she was through with parenting, she found herself raising a second generation as well as tripping over dirty socks and I-pods.
In my lifetime, there has never been a greater need for hope and encouragement. Life is full of uncertainties, such as laughing now about the scorpion running loose in the kitchen, but one thing is certain. God is always with us. Hold this verse in your heart and your mind: “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Joshua 1:5. Joshua was the commander taking over for Moses and leading a mega-city of people to the a rich desert land flowing with water. But not without a fight!
Over and over in the Old and New Testament, this promise is repeated that God is with us.
So whatever the question, “How do I….?” the answer is here. “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5. From experience, I can share that doing battle with anything is more fun with God beside you!
[Jo Russell is a Christian teacher, speaker, author of many articles, contributor to several anthologies, and Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women, Intermedia Publishing 2011. For more chuckles, keep checking her weekly blog on www.button-to-god.com.]