One 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. 7 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
- Fear / Courage – Spiders / Breakthroughs (artandideasstudio.wordpress.com)