What Crawls Underneath

Colette, the early twentieth century French author, wrote in her book Cheri (which, by the way, I don’t necessarily suggest you read): “A door slamming makes one jump, but it doesn’t make one afraid. What one fears is the serpent that crawls underneath it.”

Now, even though I wouldn’t endorse Colette’s volume, I do appreciate the intention of the words, and here’s why. In a simple way, they’re meant to relay that there are plenty of things that startle us in this life, things that cannot necessarily harm us. But we also know that sometimes there are things behind the door that can. What’s often most terrifying are those things that get through the door even as we press ourselves against it trying to keep them out—things like illness, broken relationships, and so many other things that do indeed happen outside of our control.

I’m starting to think that the image of the snake slithering under the door is becoming the more common of the terrors we face in this life. So much in our lives and world seem to be spinning furiously beyond our ability to keep up, and as a result, we feel like we’re hanging on. But with that, I want to tell you what Pastor Heckert tells me when I get to feeling that way—when I feel like I have too much to do and not enough time or energy to accomplish it all. (And by the way, I know when I get to feeling like this because I begin adding to my prayers a request for a cloning device so I can be in multiple places at once, as well as a teleportation device so that my clones can swiftly zip to these places and get their assigned tasks completed).

First, he reminds me that I don’t have to keep up. God is in control. This always reminds me of what Pope John Paul was once quoted as saying: “It’s your church, Lord. I’m going to bed.” Second, he reminds me that even as I may think I’m losing grip on Christ and His promises, the Lord is holding onto me with both hands—and His grip is the strongest. And lastly, he reminds me that quite often it’s those times when I have absolutely no control over the situation that I learn to trust Christ more intently. And he’s absolutely right. It’s during those times when it seems like the situation couldn’t get any more hopeless—that there doesn’t seem to be a way out—that we see the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ in all its glory as the ultimate deliverance from the terrors of this world. With this Gospel beaming in and through us, all terrible things behind the door—even the things that get through—have no footing for snatching us from the One who loves us enough to die in our place. In this, there’s always hope.

Take this Gospel message into yourself today. Savor it. It gives life, and it’s yours as one baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus.