As a little girl, I loved picking up worms in the garden as Dad prepared the soil. He would rototill while I would run around looking for worms as he would point them out to me. I would bend down close and pull them out and then plop them into my little pail of dirt. They were so squirmy and wiggly and fun to pull out, especially the fat juicy ones that tried their best to hang on.
One time, as I was collecting my poor victims, my dad called out a really good one to me. As usual, I bent down low to examine the unsuspecting creature. Then I saw it. I screamed for the whole neighborhood to hear. My mother came out of the house expecting the worst. It was a very deadly and poisonous baby garter snake! Well, at least it was deadly and poisonous to me. I hate snakes of all types.
Growing up fishing, I loved to catch bluegills and crappies. Dad taught me how to take the worm, cut it, and then thread it on a little hook. If it was too much worm on the hook, the fish would just nibble the worm off. The worm would curl up as I cut a piece off, but I was never threatened by it.
In contrast, when we first moved to our house in Colorado, I came home one day to discover a big rattlesnake sunbathing on our driveway. Yes, we have dogs, but they were no were to be found for some reason. I called a friend who sent an experienced snake person (I’m pretty sure he was a former green beret) to deal with the snake while I sat in the car with my children to watch. He expertly cut the snake’s head off with a flat shovel. The decapitated head continued to strike for several minutes. Yuck! He then asked me if I wanted the head and the body. I guess he didn’t want to assume.
In his book The Calvary Road, Roy Hession writes:
There is a big difference between a snake and a worm, when you attempt to strike at them. The snake rears itself up and hisses and tries to strike back—a true picture of self. But a worm offers no resistance, it allows you to do what you like with it, kick it or squash it under your heel—a picture of true brokenness.
In the prophetic Psalm 22, David writes a description of our Savior:
But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.
Christ did not strike back. Christ did not protect his reputation. Christ did not worry about what others thought. He was made a worm for us.
We have a choice. Are we a worm or a snake? Christ doesn’t save us and then puppet our every response from then on. Our Lord gave us a free will to choose. Many times, we are like snakes – striking back with our fleshly reactions. It takes grace, and a lot of help from the Holy Spirit, to reply, “I am a worm,” and actually live by it.