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The cobra in the room

The Life Less Traveled

April 06, 2011
You think you have a bad job? How would you have liked to have been the poor guy at the Bronx Zoo who had to tell his boss the cobra was missing? Imagine how that conversation went.

"So, boss, the good news is that the lines are really moving fast over at the reptile house. The bad news is that it's because people are running for their lives."

Yeah, I bet that went well.

When you have a snake on the loose whose venom can kill a guy in 15 minutes, it's probably time to take action. There are just some moments in life when you can't afford to beat around the bush.

You have to speak up.

Ever have one of those moments? Maybe someone you love has a drinking problem that's out of control, or you have a friend in an abusive relationship, but she won't get help. Maybe it's your own relationships that are unhealthy. Maybe there's something you need to confess and make right.

But when it comes down to having the conversation that could make a difference, you just don't have the guts to pull the trigger. You don't want to rock the boat.

What if that zoo worker had been really bad at confrontation? What if he hated being the bearer of bad news? What if he didn't want to upset his boss? Can you imagine him just keeping the missing snake to himself, hoping it would eventually turn up?

Of course not. That's ridiculous.

What's even more ridiculous is the fact that some of us have junk on the loose in our lives that demands action, but we just can't work up the nerve to sound the alarm. We know the situation is poisonous. We know that left unchecked, it's going to come back to bite us.

We just don't have the courage to speak the truth that needs to be said.

It's one thing to ignore the elephant in the room. Elephants are big and clumsy and obvious. Everybody knows he's there and can stay out of his way.

But the snake in the room? He's much subtler and much deadlier.

Whatever issue you face this week may not be as obvious as an elephant. You may be the only one who knows that the snake is out his cage, or the only one who can actually do something about it.

Over and over again, the Bible tells us in important moments like this to be strong and courageous because God will go with us every step of the way.

So, say a prayer, pick up the phone, send that e-mail or just walk into the next room and have the talk. The snake's going to turn up eventually, but maybe this one gutsy conversation will keep someone from getting hurt.

Jason Byerly, a 1990 graduate of Crawford County Junior-Senior High School, is the children's pastor at Southland Christian Church near Lexington, Ky. He and his wife have two daughters. For more from Byerly, visit www.jasonbyerly.blogspot.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/jasondbyerly.

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