Nobody Died. (not me and not the spider.)
Recently, I was blessed to get to spend a few days off the beaten path. A friend has a guest room at her gorgeous home right near the Brazos River. Incredible views, God’s creation, beautiful country. Now, I'm a city girl but I can do measured amounts of country and enjoy it. As long as I know the exact measurement ahead of time.
My first morning on this awesome getaway I was on the most amazing porch ever! Enjoying the view and the breeze and making plans to spend quite a bit of time relaxing, reading and writing on this porch.
It was perfect! I snapped that first photo as I took it all in. Then, I noticed something moving just above the front door on this porch. Y'all. It was THE largest spider I have ever seen first hand. Fact about me: I am terrified of spiders. Legit phobia. My heart races, I begin to panic. It's not good.
I froze. What do you even do? This was not the kind of spider you grab your flip flop for! This was the kind of spider you grab the flame thrower for! Plus he seemed pretty at home above that door. Was he a permanent fixture? Maybe he was a rent paying tenant! What should I do?? My friend was not up yet so it was just me, the once awesome porch and the diabolical spider. I was faced with a challenge. What would I do?
Could I enjoy all the beauty around me on this amazing porch anymore? My view of the water? What about my plan to be so close to God and get so much done? Now 5 feet away from me this ginormous spider was apparently going to be chilling as well? Could I enjoy the peace and beauty in the midst of what felt like lurking doom, fear and certain death? (we all know I’m dramatic. It is what it is.)
Would I abandon it all because of this unplanned and unwanted element?
It may seem like a small thing but the truth is, this happens in our lives everyday. That porch experience was no longer "perfect" for me. How many times does my day or life not go "perfectly"? Unplanned interruptions. Unexpected news. Fear, anxiety and worry brought on by things we don’t want and can’t control.
In the Bible in John chapter 16 Jesus' disciples get an unplanned interruption in the form of some unexpected news. Jesus was leaving. Their leader, their friend, their Messiah, was leaving. They had been walking with and learning from Jesus. Talk about perfect! And now a big change was coming. Not so perfect.
He went on to tell them that not only was he leaving but they were staying. Staying in the world. The imperfect, trouble filled world. And in this world they would face difficulties. This situation is getting less and less perfect by the second!
But we all know Jesus was no doom and gloom kind of guy. See how he wraps it all up:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
He was straight with them. Life wasn’t going to be perfect. But he quickly told them it didn’t matter. Nothing they would face would be beyond him. He had already overcome it all. And they would find peace in him.
That's still true today. Jesus has overcome the world and he has also overcome our world.
In your day you will have trouble.
In your relationships you will have trouble.
In your circumstances you will have trouble.
But take heart!
I have overcome your day.
I have overcome the relationship troubles.
I have overcome your circumstances.
He has overcome it all!
And therefore we get to be at peace in the middle of the imperfection. Don’t miss the source of our peace:
“...in me you may have peace.” (emphasis added)
The world, our circumstances, our relationships; these are not the source of peace. Jesus is our source. And he has overcome everything else. Therefore, peace is possible in the midst of ANYTHING.
God is always moving and answering prayers. He heals us, moves us through trials and difficulty all the time. But our peace does not have to come and go. We get to have peace through it all.
How? When trouble comes I don’t focus there. My focus stays on Jesus. I don’t let fear and anxiety take control. I look to him. I go to his Word, his truth. I remind myself that he is my peace. I don’t let my mind dwell on the trouble. I intentionally focus my mind on God, on his truth and his promises. It takes practice and intentionality but we CAN do it! It’s the only way we keep our peace in the midst.
So, how did I do on my porch? Well, I wrote this first of all. Even more amazing is the fact that because of the glare of the sun I had to ultimately move around the table and sit WITH MY BACK TO THE SPIDER! Never turn your back on your enemy!
But you know what? It helped! With my problem out of my direct line of sight it was easier to exist and not think about him and just trust that God would not let him sneak up behind me, paralyze me with his poisonous stinger, wrap me up in all his sticky string, drag me back to his web and slowly drain my blood. And he didn't!
I sat on that porch with Mr. Spider all that first day and much of the weekend. He never left. My “trouble” was there. But so was peace and so much more. I saw delicate little hummingbirds, playful squirrels and huge beautiful butterflies! I spent the most amazing time with God. I wrote so much and heard him speaking in big ways! He answered important prayers for me right on that porch!
It was a beautiful experience. And I would have missed it all if I had chosen to focus on and be distracted by the imperfect. Or worse, if I had abandoned the porch all together because it seemed there was unexpected and uninvited trouble.
My sweet friend, he is with you now in the midst of whatever unexpected and uninvited trouble you are experiencing. His peace is available to you plus so much more. He has already overcome whatever you are facing. Will you look to him? Shift your focus away from trouble and to the one who has overcome it all. Let him be your peace in the midst!