The Snake and the Stick

Quite the title, ey? Well the title is about Moses, so not quite the scandal you imagine. See, Moses had a stick that God turned into a snake, and then back into a stick again. Moses was afraid of the snake, but God told him to grab it by the tail. God knew it would soon be a stick again.

Now for the metaphor:

In life we have sticks and we have snakes. In life we have stick days- when all we are carrying in our hands are plain, old, average, mundane sticks. Then we have days when God turns the sticks into snakes. All of a sudden, what’s average feels glorious. All of a sudden, by the grace of God, what’s mundane is no more. We’re touched by the magic of what it is to be ALIVE.

The problem is that life is not a perfect ratio from snakes to sticks. Life is so much more about the stick days- the days when your heart cries out for some kind of excitement, adventure, passion, serpentine experience of all that is emotional and holy. And our soul dies a little each day we go without the snake- during every predicable hour of our humdrum existence. Our souls ache to be turned into snakes again. Our spirits yearn for that moment when we will once more shine and slither in all our perfection.

The People metaphor:

There are people in our lives who either bring out the Stick or the Snake. And Oh, how we love those Snake people. The people who challenge our blood with unbridled passion and get us to do things that usually aren’t the best things for us and definitely don’t make any fucking sense. And they usually scare the hell out of us, the way snakes do.

And after those Snake people go away, we get stuck with hand after hand of lackluster sticks- sure, some are longer than others, some are more bumpy, more interesting- but none capture us the way the snakes do.

In my heart I’ve been absolutely dying inside for some kind of snake. I’ve looked for it everywhere- much of which was in wrong places, places I knew I didn’t belong. It seems like I can only attempt to entertain myself with sticks for so long before I grow to resent everything about my life and my existence. And some people seem so much better at doing that than others. Some people seem downright happy with their sticks.

Could God have created such different creatures in humanity? Will there always be a Snake/Stick divide? Between people and even within ourselves…

I try to live my life with passion. There’s times I’m more successful at it than others. Moses was afraid of his passion, afraid of the Snake, and I think with every passion there’s unconquerable fear. I know I’m afraid of Failure… because every other time I’ve went with passion, I’ve landed straight on my face. I’m afraid of making the same mistake twice- and in some cases, hundreds of times. That fear keeps me immobile.

I build these little perfect miniature houses with my pile of sticks. I make them look crafty and take a tremendous amount of energy and time easily constructing them to their most ideal state. I look back at my safe wooden dwellings and smile, in love with how successful I can be. It comes too easily. So when there’s nothing more to build, I grow bored. I resent the piles I once grew to love, and the recklessness inside me surfaces all at once, and like an angry child, I kick them down. I watch the beautiful mess of what I took so long to create go away. Vapor. And then I mourn the loss of it.

Marriages have more stick days than snake… That’s what everyone tells me and that’s what I believe. But, I truly hope from the bottom of my heart, that at the end of the day- each day- you take the snake to bed with you. Somehow, within a 24-hour period, you’re reminded of the snake that unlocked your passion- even if it’s just for a split moment of those 24 hours. It’s there.

But God only gives Snakes to the people he can trust with Sticks. God needs to know that you aren’t going to pretend to be a Snake your entire life, that, at the end of the day, you’re committed to your stick existence. Because, you are not special- not without Him. And, so, you cant grow too in love with the Snake. You have to appreciate the sticks too. The moment of glory you have in your highest form of living can’t remove you entirely from the life you once knew. You have to take the good with the bad.

You marry both.

And sometimes you need to know when to put the stick down. God can’t transform the stick into a snake if you’re still holding on to it in your fear paralysis. Sometimes you have to walk away from the pretty pile of sticks. Sometimes Adventure needs you to let go.

God doesn’t care what you do with the pile of sticks. He only cares about when you let them go and when you pick them up again. The person who falls in love with your snake, couldn’t care less about what your pile of sticks look like. And yet, here we are. Silly little creatures who throw our entire lives away building things that serve absolutely no purpose… and we hold on to them for dear life. (And most of us complain the entire time we do it).

So, Lord, help me fall in love with Snakes again. Help me let go of my pile of sticks without the need to destroy it. Let me appreciate it for what it’s worth. But, let me allow you into my life so that you can turn me into a Snake again. And thank you for Music, which accompanies the bulk of my writing, because music is what truly frees my soul enough to continually pick up and let go of sticks.

Just like Moses, we can’t be afraid to pick up our passion. We can pick it up by the tail- taking that baby step- and God will conquer the head of it and steer it on the right course. Isn’t that what Callings are? We take baby steps and God does the rest. And after God touches our lives, and gives us the opportunity for passion and magic, we have to be prepared and willing to stick.

I need Jesus.