A snake in the garden

by Marilyn Mathis

There was a snake in the garden. I’m not referring to the Garden of Eden, but to my mother-in-law’s garden. For the first 25 or 30 years of my marriage, Jerry’s mom and dad planted a large vegetable garden for us and other sons and daughters.

At the time of this story, the garden was not near the house. It was behind the house, down the hill, across the creek and about two blocks further down a dirt road.

While visiting one day, Mrs. Mathis told me there were fresh green beans, the first of the summer, and I could pick some if I wanted. Well, I wanted! I immediately got a bucket and headed for the garden.

When I got there, I checked out the other vegetables and then started to pick beans. I was really busy filling my bucket when I heard a sound — A HISSING SOUND! I stood up, turned around and there several feet from me was a SNAKE!

This snake actually stood up on its tail, head spread out and was looking right at me. I moved and the snake moved in my direction. I took off running and screaming toward the house. On the way, I met my husband coming to help me pick beans. I yelled, “There’s a cobra in the garden.” (Note: The only snake I ever saw that stood on its tail with head spread out was a cobra. The snake that comes out of the basket when the man plays his flute.) Jerry informed me that there are no cobras in Arkansas. It was a spreading adder! Cobra? Adder? It was a snake in the garden that produced fear and a definite loss of productivity for me. Jerry picked the beans.

FEAR! What causes you to be afraid — to have a loss of courage or an intense desire to flee? Some fears are good! They protect us by prompting necessary precautions for our safety (like running from a snake). Other fears are bad! They paralyze us and make us miserable and defeated. Such as the fear of the future, loneliness, rejection, criticism, sickness, pain, of growing old, death, being ignored or forgotten . . . and the list goes on and on.

What should you do with your fears? Who do you turn to when you are afraid? David, a powerful King of Israel and the one who defeated the giant Goliath, said this about his fears:

“When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise; In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?” (Psalm 56:3-4)

“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread? Wait on the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait on the LORD” (Psalm 27: 1, 14).

The Hebrew word “wait” means “to twist, stretch.” It paints a picture of the making of a strong powerful rope or cord by twisting and weaving ourselves so tightly around the Lord that our weaknesses are replaced by His power and great strength. As we wait, our weakness, our fears, are replaced by His wonderful strength. “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

In Matthew 10:30-31, Jesus said, “The very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.” How amazing that God keeps track of the exact number of hairs that we lose each day. If He is aware and concerned about something so small, we can be assured that nothing large will escape His notice. He loves you and is mindful of all that occurs in your life.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Fear not! Trust God and wait on Him!


A Conway resident, Marilyn Mathis is a wife, mother, Nana and teaching leader for First Wednesday Lunch Break. Readers can reach her at [email protected].