I don’t claim to be anything like Indiana Jones, but we definitely have one thing in common. We both HATE snakes!
I don’t care what kind they are. I don’t care how much good they do. To me they will always be icky and gross and possibly very dangerous. No thank you. Sometimes I don’t even have to see a real snake to be grossed out. There have been times where I’ve been on a walk and seen the shed skin of a snake and wanted to run away. Eww.
The idea of removing the entire outer layer of skin sounds so strange to me, but snakes do this quite often. Human skin (as well as many other animals’) grows with the person as we get older. Snakeskin does not. It can only stretch so far before the snake gets too big and needs to shed off its outer layer so that it can continue growing. For this reason, when snakes are young they grow very fast and shed their outer layer of skin about every other week. Older snakes may shed only a few times a year.
Once a new layer of skin has grown underneath, the old skin peels away leaving a single snake-shaped shell. To remove it the snake will rub against a rough hard object then slowly inch its way through the old layer until it is completely removed. Most snake skins you’ll find in the wild are usually inside out and in one piece.
As gross as I find this attribute of snakes, I shouldn’t. Us humans shed our skin too. It just happens in little pieces rather than all at once. Most any female will know this to be true when they get their nails done and the skin on your hands and feet gets taken off. Others may know this from when you get a sunburn and the skin begins to peel. In reality, an average person will lose 8 pounds of skin cells every year.
Even though it sounds gross, our bodies do this so that it can stay healthy. Just like the snakes, we need to grow and change and we need new skin cells in order to do that. Think of how tiny babies are. If we only ever had that skin for the rest of our lives, we could never grow or change.
Today is the 1st of January. It is a new year. At this time many people are making changes that they call New Year’s Resolutions. They will start eating better or they will start going to the gym. They will start talking to their friends more. These are all lovely ideas, but I have one of my own for you.
What if we shed our old skin? Figuratively, of course. Over and over again the Bible tells us “be not afraid.” Be not afraid of the life that God has planned for you, instead run full speed into it. In this way, we are called to shed our fear and our doubt.
The book of Isaiah says, “Don’t fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine.” We are given this promise that God has called us to something great. He has redeemed us and loves us, if only we are brave enough to walk with him. All we need is to get rid of that fear.
Now when I hear of resolutions, many people say the phrase, “New year, new me.” In the context of us shedding the old us, when you use words like that, I think more of a butterfly out of a cocoon. I think of giant radical changes. For some people that might be necessary, but for most of us we simply need to make small changes to fully embrace a life in Christ.
In 2nd Corinthians Paul writes,
When I shed my old dead skin cells, I don’t grow back purple fish scales. I grow back skin cells very similar to the old ones that “passed away”, but they are new and full of life. That is what God wants for us too. He has made us a certain way with certain gifts. He wants to use us how we are. Whatever those gifts and talents are, he is calling you to use them for the glory of His kingdom. He doesn’t want you to be someone you are not. If we simply shed our fear, we can answer God’s call. We can serve Him to the best of our abilities. When we shed our doubts and our fears we can truly embrace this life “in Christ”.
Take some time this next week in prayer asking God what talents of yours He is calling you to use. What has He been calling you to, but you might have been too afraid to answer because it sounded hard or scary? Once you figure out that call, DO IT! Start today. Start in any way you can.
This was what I did last year. I felt called to share the connection between faith and science, my love for both. So I started small, talking to a church here or a youth group there. Then I started writing this blog. Then I made a few videos. Now this ministry has taken off because I am using my gifts and talents to serve God. I am reaching so many people and I hope to continue reaching even more in the year 2020. I already have a few engagements scheduled at churches and schools, but I am hoping to reach as many people as possible with this good news.
So it doesn’t have to be something traditional that is already a thing in the Church. Whatever you feel called to, go out and do it! God needs us as His hands and feet on this Earth. He needs you. He has “called you by name” saying “you are Mine.” He has called you. In the year 2020 it is your turn to answer.