What do you kill?
Before asking this question I should have asked ‘do you kill?” Well, I think I’m not that much of a linear thinker. Therefore I don’t feel the obligation to ask first question first. So, what do you kill?
Deuteronomy 5:17 reads “you shall not murder.” (NIV)
The first definition given for the word ‘kill’ in my Collins English Dictionary and Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary is “cause the death of”. The Tigrigna translation for the verse above can mean the same as ‘you shall not kill or do not kill’. ‘Aytiqtel’. I primarily read bible in Tigrigna. Hence I would have safely understood ‘you shall not murder’ to mean ‘you shall not kill’. While the dictionary definition of ‘kill’ is stated above, ‘murder’ is defined as ‘the crime of unlawfully killing a person especially with malice aforethought’ in Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary; and ‘unlawful intentional killing of a human being’ in Collins English Dictionary.
Now, it will be unlawful for me to make the ‘unlawful killing look lawful’. Murdering is killing but killing is not necessarily murdering. Ok, first things first: do you kill? I do kill. Even here in Adol I kill. Even today I killed. Don’t be shocked.
You may not have any idea of what I kill. I will tell you. It is getting hot here. That prompts the scorpions to get outside of their hiding especially when night comes. Naturally they like night. During the first five days of my return to the field in the second week of January 2013, I killed four scorpions in my room and in the veranda. Even tonight as I write this blog I killed another smaller one in the veranda: a fifth one. I have posted its picture here.
Most of the scorpions here are not very poisonous. I have only heard of one child who died due to scorpion sting in this area. Many people here get stung by scorpions but recover shortly afterwards. I myself had been stung twice last year but it was not severe as I presumed would be. Here if you see a scorpion you kill it mercilessly if not it might sting you mercilessly. That is the practice in this land that I have also embraced. If you are a person who advocates for scorpions, practically that would be ‘another gospel’ here. I once thought if there would be other alternatives of getting rid of the scorpions without killing them, and actually asked some of my people – the Dinka. My question turned to be funny. After the laughter one young man said, “Ok let it go then, and it will come back again to teach you a lesson.” We all laughed together. Since I came to South Sudan I have killed many scorpions. Even though one can take lots of precautions, that I also do, killing seems the safest solution especially if it comes to an area of human dwelling. So I kill scorpions! That is why I said “I do kill”. Do you kill? Do you kill scorpions? I want you to kill as many scorpions as you can. When it gets dark here, I search if there are any in my room and veranda. It was ‘by searching’ that I was able to find those that I killed – just looking around for precautions. By the way I just finished reading Isobel Kuhn’s ‘By Searching’ before starting this blog – a wonderful book. Again, would you mind if I challenge you to search for scorpions and kill them? You are thinking I must be joking. No, I am not.
Usually God gives me lessons from many things that happen to be around me. My intention is not to convince anyone that the ‘arachnid’ scorpions should be killed. By the way, if you believe that they should not be killed, cheers! But I wonder if you would maintain that conviction if you happen to stay here for some time.
Dealing with scorpions reminds me of two things:
1. “I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” (Luke 10:19, NIV).
This verse can be taken literally (cf. Acts 28:3-5) to mean as it is written. Yet I also believe that ‘snakes and scorpions’ here also have additional meaning. Snakes are bigger, more dangerous and poisonous creatures than scorpions. Apart from its literal meaning the word ‘snake’ also refers to ‘Satan’ (Revelation 12:9). Both snakes and scorpions tend to be active at night, even though they move during the day. I would say they represent the powers of darkness – Satan and his evil spirits. Through killing the scorpions I get reminded of my struggle – as a Christian – not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12). Praise God! The Lord has made me victor over the powers of darkness – Satan and his evil spirits.
2. “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature:…” (Colossians 3:5, NIV).
‘Put to death’ is ‘qitelu’ in Tigrigna. The same word used for ‘kill’. Here killing becomes lawful. I had not been merciful with the scorpions. I search for them in my room, the veranda, and some times beyond. Once I see one – even the smallest one – I haste to kill it. But God is using my actions towards the scorpions to challenge me. Do I behave the same way towards what belongs to my earthly nature that I have been told to put to death – kill? The Apostle Paul, though he started to list the things that belong to earthly nature such as sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry, and anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language, lie, and discrimination (Colossians 3:5, 8, 11, NIV – italics mine) his list is open. One just needs to search for these ‘scorpions of earthly nature’ which can make a big list. The word ‘whatever’ encourages us to ‘search’ for any identifiable earthly nature in us that has not yet been put to death or that we have not got rid of. To search for the scorpions I use light in the dark, check the sites in my room that I think a scorpion might be hiding. I believe when searching for earthly nature in us, we can use the word of God, the guidance of the Holy Spirit, our conscience, and our mental judgment as Christians. So, this is how God is challenging me to learn from the daily happenings here.
“‘Don’t play with a knife’ said the hen” says an Amharic proverb, and “Do not play with scorpions.” advices one of the CHE lessons on First Aid. Let’s not play with earthly nature lest it will play with our dear life.
So, ‘what do you kill?’ ‘By searching’ we can find what earthly nature we need to put to death or get rid of. Let’s keep killing any earthly nature that shows up! May God help us! Amen.