A Spider Bite

I was bitten by a spider a few weeks ago.

The wound is on the back of my right thigh, and is raised and hot. The swollen area became as large as the diameter of a coffee mug, and clearly had become infected. A war was on – a biological war. I didn’t tell anyone, till now.

After multiple times of my little white blood cells sacrificing themselves to fight the foe and heal the area, and then escaping the scene of battle (I didn’t want to be gross, so I said it that way), I was finally coaxed into seeing the doctor. Okay, my wife told me that if I didn’t I might die. I listen to her.

I’ve been feverish and unwell for a few days as well, and it seems that it is possible that the venom from the spider was fairly powerful. Pounding headaches, light nausea, burning eyes, tiredness – all possibly related to the bite – affected geographical areas remote from the wound such as my brain, eyes and stomach.

We’ve sent some synthetic freedom fighters in on the job (mercenary – we had to pay to get them involved) to help the white blood cells take care of the enemy within, so I hope to be doing better in a few days. With Institute classes starting next week, I need to get better quickly.

Let me venture to say this: the war within me is occuring because an “enemy venom” is threatening to harm the peace of my system. My system, by nature, is designed to care for itself, and protect its peaceful ecosystem. For whatever reason the spider bit me, there is a “bully” within, and my troops are aligned to stop it. When I crush a spider, or take it outside (which I’ve been known to do), I’m the bully.

Now, tell me, given that we are on this broken side of eden’s wholeness, why is it that many of my friends believe that no war, ever, “should or must” take place, anywhere on earth? Many even say so from within the very freedom and in the very environment that war created for them – a place where bullies can’t get to them. I’m a “peacenik” to many of my friends given my stance that we as Christians must live out the call to peace, and seek to restore and heal instead of harm. I’m against war. I think nations, including my own, can be the bully, too.

But, bullies are to be dealt with to care for peace, and most situations are convoluted. I know that one day I’m the good guy, one day I’m the bad guy. I’m not taking a national stand here. I’m asking about law, and lawlessness, and why police, and armies and forces must exist in the world that enforce law for the good of the whole – in a broken world where bullies seek hostile takeover.

I want peace, too most days. But not at all costs. I watch the joy in my daughter’s face that she can play soccer, worship God freely, and honor with dignity others who don’t believe as she does. I’d fight for her to have that freedom should a bully seek to take it away. I’m not proud of that on one level, given my deeply held beliefs about Jesus, his teaching, and his way in the world today. But, self-sacrifice does not always seem to apply.

I’m glad my body is not sacrificing itself to the bully venom in my system.

I was bitten by a spider a few weeks ago.

P.S. For a beautiful picture on how self-sacrifice can win both micro-cosmic and macro-cosmic war, read Madeline L’Engle’s A Wind In The Door (in the same series as A Wrinkle In Time and A Swiftly Tilting Planet). I just read it with my 10 year old son – a complex book, but one of beauty.


Sheltering Mercy: Prayers Inspired by the Psalms

Sheltering Mercy, along with its companion volume, Endless Grace, helps us rediscover the rich treasures of the Psalms—through free-verse prayer renderings of their poems and hymns—as a guide to personal devotion and meditation.

The church has always used the Psalms as part of its prayer life, and they have inspired countless other prayers. This book contains 75 prayers drawn from Psalms 1-75, providing lyrical sketches of what authors Ryan Smith and Dan Wilt have seen, heard, and felt while sojourning in the Psalms. Each prayer is a response to the Psalms written in harmony with Scripture. These prayers help us quiet our hearts before God and welcome us into a safe place amid the storms of life.

This artful, poetic, and classic devotional book features compelling custom illustrations and foil-stamped hardcover binding, offering a fresh way to reflect on and pray the Psalms.