STORMS terrified me. There came a night, however, when I was backpacking alone, and a tremendous storm broke, and there was no place to hide. I huddled beneath my tarpaulin and started singing hymns in order to feel God's care. These hymns assured me of His loving presence surrounding me at that very moment. That night, wind and lightning and thunder ceased to disturb me. It wasn't storms that had made me uncomfortable as much as it was a sense of vulnerability, fear of harm. While avoidance of a threatening situation may often be the wisest course, it's also true that we may be taking our fear with us when we get in the habit of hiding. Then we're not really free from fear. The Bible is instructive in this respect. God told Moses to place his rod on the ground. When a serpent appeared where the rod had been, Moses ran. But God insisted that he pick up the alarming object. When he mastered his fear and did so, the serpent lost all power to disturb or harm him. ``And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand.''1
Moses exercised neither bravado nor blind trust but profound faith in God's supreme authority. At ground level the object looked dangerous. Might not ground level represent materiality, which claims man is formed from the dust of the ground? What happens when we lift our sights and glimpse the higher view of man's origin in God, Spirit? God's power and protection also come into view, and we consciously rise out of reach of situations so formidable to ground-level perception.
No one is suggesting we go around picking up every snake we see. The opposite of fear isn't foolhardiness. Moses grasped the snake because he was impelled by divine wisdom to do so. And whatever God tells us to do, it's important that we do, because God is Love.
The nature of disease was also proved illusory when Moses' hand suddenly appeared leprous and then returned to normal.2 Safety lay in ascendancy over fear and in obedience to God.
That which opposes God's authority is never legitimate, never truly powerful, because God is the one infinite power. Moses' unchallenged fears allowed him to see a serpent and disease. God, good, didn't create these evils. In this light we can see that avoiding the serpent or treating the leprosy with material methods wouldn't have dispelled the basic problem, the fear of physical danger. Moses would have remained vulnerable to future temptations and health threats.