They are creepy, evil-looking beasts that lurk every-stinking-where. I cannot watch Home Alone when the kid drops his brother’s tarantula on the crook’s face. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets gives me the willies, usually followed by nightmares, and I skipped those pages in the Lord of the Rings when Frodo and Sam met up with Shelob. I put Post-it notes in the kids’ science books so I don’t accidentally flip the page and encounter a spider.
When I married and moved out to the country, my husband teased that he never knew there were spiders out there until I moved in. Twenty years ago I saw I display at the Smithsonian that proclaimed on Earth, you are NEVER more than three feet away from a spider. Thank you, Smithsonian Institute for that little piece of sleep-stealing information.
So bear all that in mind as I relate the following adventure.
A couple of weeks ago, I had just turned into the drive at my daughter’s school, so we sat in a line of cars, inching forward, dropping off elementary school kids one or two at time. It was in that moment that Rachel wailed, “Mom! There’s a spider ON ME!” I couldn’t see it. “It’s HERE! ON ME!” (She’s kind of scared of spiders, too.) She held out her sweater so I could see the black spindly-legged devil.
And it was.
It was a clear case of my baby or the beast. So I reached over to swipe the spider away. And I missed … (In retrospect, it was probably a good thing NOT to have it loose in the van. I would have sold the van. Seriously. Jumped out, walked home, sold the van.)
Rachel very bravely, very carefully got a tissue for me and I snatched at the spider, grabbing it on the second try. Then I rolled down the window and pitched it outside. Whew. Safe and sound. We confronted the monster, and we lived.
Fear is powerful. It often dictates our responses, causing us to act or not act. Usually the only thing that overcomes fear is something that proves even stronger. In my case that morning, it was my mothering instincts, my desire to protect my daughter from a threat, even a small one, and to help her not be afraid.
So here’s the thing. I’m usually afraid to speak up and share my faith. I mean, I know the eternal God and Savior of my soul, the one who loves me without reservation and loves those around me, too, and 999 times out of thousand, I can’t find my voice to tell someone else about Him.
After that eight-legged encounter, I think I know why.
My desire to obey Jesus, who told me to share my faith, is weaker than my fear.
My love for those people who need to know Him is weaker than my fear.
But it doesn’t have to be.
In Paul’s letter to the believers in Ephesus, he writes, “Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.” (Ephesians 6:19-20, NIV)
See, even Paul struggled with boldness – which is somehow reassuring – but he dealt with it by committing himself to witnessing and enlisting folks to pray for him. I’m pretty sure that’s a prayer God will honor.
I’m also pretty sure speaking up is less dangerous than taking on a black widow.
(Yes. Don’t know where it came from, or how it got on Rachel, but the spider on my daughter, in my car, was positively identified as a black widow. And for the record, I felt a little woozy the rest of the day.)