Searching and Fearless
Then the Lord sent poisonous serpents among the people, and they bit the people,
so that many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord to take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.”
—Numbers 21:6–8 (NRSV)
VINCE AMLIN | As a pastor, I have occasionally had the honor of walking alongside some- one in their recovery journey as they completed step four of twelve, making “a searching and fearless moral inventory” of themselves.
I’ve witnessed the courage it requires to catalog one’s failures and shortcomings in detail. I’ve been present for what was sometimes equally challenging work: owning one’s good- ness and giftedness.
And I have seen the healing and new life that can come from taking such a long, unflinch- ing look at one’s actions.
Cue the poisonous serpents.
God sends them to torment the ungrateful Israelites in the wilderness. Then tells Moses to make a statue of one, put it on a pole, and show it to them as an antidote. You know, just normal Bible stuff.
I confess, I don’t believe in a God who would send venomous snakes to kill me for my ingratitude. Not sure what to do with that.
But I do believe in a God who encourages me to take long, hard looks at my mistakes. And I can testify to the way that hard and holy work has been an antidote for some against the things that threatened their lives.
PRAYER Healing One, make me searching and fearless.

About the Writer:
VINCE AMLIN is Co-Pastor of Bethany United Church of Christ in Chicago and co-planter of Gilead Chicago.

Source: “Running from Empty” | 2023 Lent Devotional by the Stillspeaking Writers’ Group, made up of United Church of Christ ministers and writers who collaborate on resources for people in the church, outside the church, and not sure about the church.