Monthly Archives: September 2013

Spiders of My Mind

garden spiderOne morning recently I walked into our kitchen and noticed a large coffee cup turned upside down on the floor with a sticky note on top on which was printed in large letters “SPIDER”.  It was left there by a friend who lives with us and leaves for work before my normal rising time.

The day before the cup discovery I had been working in the yard pulling weeds near our tool and tractor shed, and had spotted a rather fierce looking large black and yellow spider. That image was impressed on my brain, and the memory turned on a caution light as I considered what kind of spider might be under the cup.

I’m not generally a fearful person, but there are certain things I’d rather avoid, most of which start with the letter “s” – like snakes, scorpions, Satan, sin, scary movies, sewage, stinkbugs, sinkholes, and yes, spiders.

I am not afraid of most house spiders, especially the little ones that trap fruit-flies or other small bugs that trouble my house plants. But not being able to see what was under the cup caused my imagination to disable my stand-and-fight apparatus; I resorted to my “defer-to-brave-husband mode”.

I buzzed David on the intercom (his office is in our walk-in basement) and asked if he had seen the cup with the spider note on it. He said “Yes” and asked if I had taken care of it. I responded “No” and he said he would take care of it after breakfast, which only prolonged the suspense.

I don’t recall how many steps I took around that spider-trap cup that morning in order to prepare our toasted muffin breakfast, but I know I was very careful to avoid accidentally kicking it with my foot. I didn’t know the size of the spider, how fast it could move, if it was a jumping spider, or if it was poisonous. It’s interesting how imagination can work overtime when there are unknown factors involved.

Many of our worry and anxiety concerns are like the spider under the cup. We often imagine things to be much worse than they really are; the uncertainty of the size or the potential danger of our foe causes our fright-and-flight mechanism to kick in. We are often afraid of the unknown. Many of our decisions are based on that fear.

Yet the Scriptures – Old Testament as well as New Testament – tell us not to fear.

In Mark chapter 4:38-40, Jesus was in a boat with his disciples when a bad storm came up. The disciples panicked and waking Jesus said to him:

“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” . . . He said to [the disciples], “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”

We often connect the current circumstance with something from our past that caused us pain, or grief, or worry, or shame and we view the new event in light of the old one – particularly when we don’t have all the information.

Old resentments, old hurts, betrayals, disappointments, losses, painful moments can cause a knee-jerk reaction of fear, insecurity, doubt,  orconfusion; then we over-react to what we think we are facing in the present moment.

There are three things we need to do to conquer unreasonable fear, anxiety, and distress of spirit:

Let Go of the Past

“ . . .  one thing I do:forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus . . . let us hold true to what we have attained.” Phil. 3:13-16

Get a New Perspective

Phil 4:6-7 “. . . do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Practice the Presence of God

 Is. 41:10 “. . . fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Now, about the spider under the cup: I later saw the suspect cup on the counter by the sink. I was not present when my husband lifted it to see how large the eight-legged creature was, or to watch it fry on my husband’s handy “bug-zapper”.

When I later asked David what kind of spider was under the cup, he said there was nothing under the cup. We figured that the spider was so small it had probably crawled out by means of the slight indentation in the pattern of the linoleum .

Oh, and the large yellow and black spider by the shed? I looked it up on-line. For all its ferocious look, it was a garden spider, totally harmless. Like a lot of our mental spiders – harmless except for the power we give them to make us afraid. It’s time to get rid of the spiders of our minds.

©2013, Marcy Alves

Looking for Home?

home sweetDo you feel “at home” where you live? Or do you find yourself looking back to someplace in the past where you experienced security and peace? Like the place where you grew up as a child?

I was raised near a small town in Virginia in a rural area; I can still picture our home place; the flowers Dad planted each spring, the rope swing hung from a sturdy branch of the poplar tree in the side yard, the wood pile stacked near the shed. I also picture a later “family place” on a lake in Pennsylvania where we vacationed every summer with my second parents – my pastor and his wife who “adopted” me after my parents died when I was a young woman. It’s been sold now.

My husband and I have lived in many different places during the course of our marriage and ministry – from New Jersey to Kentucky to four different locations in Massachusetts, to three different locations in New Hampshire. We’ve lived in rented apartments, in the home of a friend, and in four different parsonages.

When we were in full time itinerant ministry, though we loved being on the road, we always looked forward to getting back “home” – the place where we could kick off our shoes, have our private space, regroup, recoup, let down, and catch up on rest.

David and I have often said to each other, “It doesn’t matter where we live; as long as you are there, it feels like home.”  We have found over the years that being “at home” is not a place, it’s a feeling. It’s a comfortable, peaceful and secure sense of belonging, of being accepted, of being loved.

But we both have had those times of stress and personal life challenges when the presence of the other person does not meet the need of being perfectly known and understood. Where the heart cry cannot be put into words, where the desire cannot be fully articulated.  Where the need cannot be fully met, because the spirit has deep longings another person can’t reach. It’s a place that feels lonely, and a time when we crave a place where that deep longing can be satisfied; a place called “home”.

Many years ago when David and I were in our early itinerant ministry, doing concerts and spiritual renewal weekends in whatever churches God sent us to, I had such an experience of loneliness; that experience set me on a road to discover where “home” really is.

We were invited to come and minister in a renewal weekend in a rather legalistic fundamentalist church where we had not been before. In a meeting with the pastor and elders on the Friday morning prior to the start of the weekend I sensed a definite “men-are-in-charge-here” spirit.  All the questions were directed to David, even though many of them were in relation to the areas of the ministry that I generally handled. If I offered an answer, the eyes of the leadership looked downward as they listened.

I definitely felt marginalized, minimized, ignored. And it hurt. I wished we had not come to this place and felt like running to the security of “home”. However, we were some 10 hours from where we lived, so that was not a real possibility – plus, we were committed for the weekend.

As we left the pastor’s office, headed to the parsonage for dinner before the evening meeting, I excused myself to slip into the ladies’ room; I entered one of the stalls and quietly cried. I asked the Lord, “Why did you send us here? I can’t minister here.”  I then felt a comforting warmth of the  presence of the Lord wrap around me as He answered, “Yes you can, because I am the one ministering through you.  And I will minister to you.” I then felt the peace of “home”.

There have been many moments since that long ago instance when I have needed that kind of assurance and comfort. It’s at those times of mental or spiritual “aloneness” that I have found a “home” to run to. And the same is true for my husband. When no one else can meet the longing, the need, the uncertainty, our heavenly Father has an open door, and open arms.

I read a poem this past week that resonates with me. The author is unknown. It’s a bit “old fashioned” in style and wording, but I’d like to share it with you here.

My Home Is God

My home is God Himself, Christ brought me there.

I placed myself within His mighty arms;

He took me up, and safe from all alarms

He bore me where no foot but His has trod,

Within the holiest, at home with God;

And had me dwell in Him, rejoicing there.

O holy place! O home divinely fair!

And we, God’s little ones, abiding there.

My home is God Himself; it was not always so.

A long, long road I traveled night and day,

And sought to find, within myself, some way.

Nothing I did or felt could bring me near.

Self-effort failed, and I was filled with fear.

And then I found Christ was the only way,

That I must come to Him and in Him stay,

And God had told me so.

And now, my home is God; and sheltered there,

God meets the trials of my earthly life,

God compasses me round from storm and strife,

God takes the burden of my daily care.

O wondrous place! O home divinely fair!

And I, God’s little one, safe hidden there.

Lord, as I dwell in You and You in me,

So make me dead to everything but Thee;

That as I rest within my home most fair,

My soul may evermore and only see

My God in everything and everywhere;

For now I know, my home is God.

The Scriptures reveal the truth of this poem for the true believer: it’s found in Acts 17:28

“In Him we live and move and have our being.”

Have you found this comforting, healing place in God’s presence? Or are you still looking for your “home, sweet home”?

©2013, Marcy Alves

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