Cane Spider

September 13, 2005
by Kathleen Ageton

2 Timothy 1:7 – For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (KJV)

Living in the tropics, I've faced my share of creepy critters. I've encountered centipedes, mice, termites, and roaches galore (even flying ones). I don't like them, but I can deal with them. What I cannot tolerate are cane spiders. Cane spiders are not benign web-sitters like the proverbial Charlotte; they are hunters, moving with frightening speed. They are erratic and unpredictable. Big, brown, and revoltingly ugly, they lurk in dark places, and I never know when one will come galloping out at me. A few weeks ago, I was just ready to get into the shower — talk about "vulnerable"— when I saw a suspicious thick brown line curling out from behind my shampoo bottle. There was no one I could call to rescue me. With a quick prayer, I took action. Fortunately, hot water kills cane spiders. It took all my weak nerve, but I managed (oh! shivers!) to put an end to it. The idea that I could have reached for the shampoo, and … I don't even like to think about it.

I know that my fear is unreasonable, and it was, for a time, practically paralyzing. Knowing that a cane spider could be ready to jump out of any dark corner at any time kept me from walking near walls in my house. To open a cupboard was an action that took on heroic proportions, as I imagined a cane spider just waiting to leap onto my hand. To close my eyes at night thinking that a cane spider might be under the pillow made it nearly impossible to relax enough to sleep. I didn't even want to pray for God to heal me of this phobia because I knew that to get "cured" of a phobia meant being repeatedly exposed to the object of one's fear. Finally, I decided that I couldn't live with this absurd anxiety. I asked God to help me. Soon I noticed a subtle change. Instead of focusing on loathsome cane spiders, I started focusing on the character of God and how He loves me. He is kind, good, gentle, patient, understanding, holy, and wonderful. He knows my frame and loves me as I am. He would never make fun of my fears. I thought about how He sees where every spider is hiding in my house. If I encounter one again, I am confident He will give me the grace to weather the situation. Although I still vehemently hate cane spiders, I am not allowing my fear to keep me from opening a cupboard or reaching into the back of my closet. I know the Lord will help me.

There are other areas in my life that are like cane spiders. These could be overwhelming if I dwelt on "what-ifs": what if my parenting decisions harmed my little son; what if I offended my friend by sharing my faith with her; what if I made a big mistake at work? Now, instead of imagining each potentially negative situation played out to the most dreadful end, I'm finding that the Lord is reminding me of how I can trust in Him. I know that He will help me with each scary scenario as it arises, and I don't have to bring tomorrow's fear into today. Peace is a wonderful thing.

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for understanding each of us. Thank You that You never laugh at our weaknesses. Thank You for Your kindness. Thank You that we can trust You. Amen.

About the author:

Kathleen Ageton <katbabc@hotmail.com>
Wailuku, Hawaii, USA

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