Nothing new to report in respect to life in the sticks. Last week I averaged 3.5 miles everyday last week. I dug a ditch to remove the water that was threatening to enter the house I am living in. We are getting a lot of rain. Thank God that it has not rained here for a couple of days. We have dried up a lot. It sucks that so much water was flooded Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas has received so much rain. My heart goes out to everyone that has been affected by these storms. I wish the west could a bit of that rain.
I caught a spider sometime last week, on the 21st or 22nd of June. It was the biggest spider I have ever seen in a place I was living. The body alone was the size of a quarter. I was told it was a Wolf Spider.
I caught it in a Tupperware thing. I put it outside on my porch. It would curl up and sleep, then all the sudden bounce around and stuff. I sat there watching it. It was trapped, and trapped by me. I became responsible for its life and death.
I resolved early on that I wanted to kill this spider. I just could not smash it or poison it. So I was going to keep it there and see how many days it took to die in the Tupperware.
This may sound monstrous and cruel. I acquiesce and say, I feel cruel and monstrous. It was not my intention to kill this spider. I was fearful to let it go. An irrational fear swept over me and I caged it in that Tupperware.
I faced this fear as I would go and sit on the porch next to this spider. I watched it and thought, “I am that spider.” I too am caged and subject to a cruel and monstrous punisher. At least I felt this way. It began to rain…very hard. It began to pool and flood areas surrounding me. I could have sworn I heard God telling me I was the cause of the floods. That my destruction and captivity of the spider brought on a second great flood. That the rainbow meant nothing because one of Gods creatures is messing with another.
So I froze and prayed. I meditated. I was scared. I caught a butterfly and tried to throw it into the Tupperware cage holding this spider. The spider jumped around, trying to escape. I imagined it was excited by the prospect of a delicious looking butterfly. [I wonder if butterflies taste anything like butter.] The butterfly went partially in to the Tupperware, but escaped and flew away. The spider now trapped with no meal and water. Do spiders need water?
The rain kept coming and pooled on top of the Tupperware cage which held the spider. The spider crawled to the side of the Tupperware and sort of sat, as spiders sit. I imagined a conversation with the spider.
THE SPIDER SAYS, “Dude, what is your deal? Why are you messing with me? I just want to live a spider life and do spider things. What did I do to you?”
My reply is, “Man you scared the shite out of me. You are mysterious, dark, and crawly. You make me nervous and I do not trust you being around. Plus I let you out now and you go and get your spider buddies and exact revenge on me.”
THE SPIDER SAYS, “You are a dumbass. You are hundreds of times bigger than me! I make you nervous?!? Who is in the Tupperware? I swear if you let me go I will bail and not return. I will take my spider crew and inhabit another part of the house or a nice tree somewhere. Bro, What Would Jesus Do Here?”
Sort of taken back by this spider’s tone I reply, “What’s Jesus got to do with it? First of all I do not trust you one bit. You have venom and more than 4 legs. What theologians does a spider like?”
THE SPIDER SAYS, “Jesus has everything to do with you holding me hostage…what a hypocrite! I just heard you reading from Luke. Jesus calls US to transformation, to equality, to “Brothered”-hood. What justice is proclaimed by you keeping me here in this Tupperware? Look, you and I are in the same boat. I want to live, you want to live. Jesus wants US to live. What deep seeded issue is inspiring you to cage me? What are you afraid of?”
I shake my head, between conviction and denial, “What the hell are you the Dr. Phil of spiders? I have no issue here!” I light up a smoke. “I am done talking to you.”
I sat there smoking convicted…I am killing this spider. I need to let it go. I tried to release it. I held the Tupperware cage countless times. Day 2. Day 3. Day 4, the spider bounced around in the cage. The spider roamed the Tupperware to this corner and that corner.
I thought for a long time about what I was doing. Am I going to be judged for this incident? On day 5 I went outside to smoke. I grew more and more aware of my finitude and my connection to the world around me. I am just a cog in the machine of creation. This spider is also a part of creation. I went to open the Tupperware cage…the spider was not moving. The spider was in a puddle of something. I shook the cage, nothing. I looked closer; the spider was dead and lying in its own mess.
I set the Tupperware down. I killed the spider. I feel guilty. I am a monster and cruel to animals. I would have done better by just stepping on the spider. I did not. I played a game with it. A game rooted in fear.
I meditated on this. My life is a game rooted in fear. I fear rejection, acceptance, a cage. They say that the greatest prison one can be incarcerated in is in ones own mind. I would agree with this. I have lived in a prison with bars of guilt. A floor of remorse. A bed made of mystery. That I have clothed with superstition and irrational fears. I drink from the sink, which dispense life. I have ot drank enough from that sink.
I claim to be free in Christ. To be transformed or transforming. To have the courage to be. To be a new creation. The fact is that I am a bully, filled with fear. I cover my fears with a false sense of confidence.
I preached on Luke 9:51-62 this past Sunday. I want to follow Jesus. I want to commit to him and leave the old behind. Everywhere we turn there is a new product to improve ourselves, to trim the fat, to make us over. I worship and adore the celebrity culture. I have made shallow, empty, and perverse figures into my royalty.
On every channel we turn to there are programs filled with folks trying to be something else. It is as if we are children still and playing dress up. We set ourselves into categories and stereotypes and bust our butts to live up to them.
I admire and honor those self-made people that pull themselves up by the boot straps and stand on there two feet to take the bull by the horns and live fabulously successful lives. Lives with riches, homes, cars, and no want in the world. I buy lottery tickets and dream of joining the club.
I go to church on Sundays [when I go], after a week of living in the world. I covet, lust, gossip, lie, hate, slander, and God knows what else…and I sit in church satisfied that I am doing all that I can. I am doing what is required of me. I am in seminary! I comfortably walk with Jesus in the shade of the sin I will not admit. I rest in the judgment that I am ok and “they, them over there” are the ones that need fixing.
I fill images of God with my politics and perspectives. Forgetting that God is me, that Gods ways are not my ways and Gods thoughts are not my thoughts. I make allegiances with God like I was on one of those reality game shows vying for a million dollar prize. I beg and plead that if I am given this or that from God that I will not do something ever again.
As I negotiate the path of mediocrity paved with righteousness I miss the point of the radical nature of the call to which I have proclaimed to be a part of. Jesus is not satisfied with good works and a malicious heart. Jesus is not pleased with justice to the poor and a lustful mind. Jesus wants it all. There is no Jesus “AND.” The Jesus “AND” has made me a killer. This is what Jesus is saying when he says, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Jesus is saying to me [to us], that there is no Jesus “AND!” Letting the dead bury the dead, is not an insensitive statement. It is a radical demand that requires from me total transformation of what world I have been living in. I am not fit for the kingdom absent of total commitment. I cannot have Jesus “AND!”
Jesus wants me [us] us to embark on a journey with him. Jesus desires for me the transformation, the awakening, the empowering in the Spirit, to leave all of the death behind and follow him…to a new life. A new Kingdom, a new way, a new perspective.
The good news is that I am not alone. I cannot do it alone. I have Jesus with his face fixed towards Jerusalem to lead me. Because it is in Jerusalem that Jesus reconciles creation to Creator. It is in Jerusalem that the Jesus “AND” is shattered with GRACE. It is in this grace that I am [we are] forgiven and the strength, courage, and hope that I [we] need to turn from the plow and leave the dead, is give to me [us.] It is in Jerusalem that the final chapter is written for creation. We are returned to the garden, walking hand in hand with the Creator of ALL.
This is what the spider was trying to tell me. We are all in this together. There is no us and them, only we. I held the spider hostage because I was fearful that there was not enough grace and forgiveness for me and “them”. I killed the spider out of fear. I remain in my prison out of fear. I have not fully trusted God in my life. I have not idea what this looks like exactly and am not sure that I ever will. Today all I know is that I hope to be a vessel of Gods reconciliation. To be this I must first open my prison’s gate and allow Jesus in to counsel me. I think I am ready to do this…