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.