Friday, September 11, 2009

A Spider in the Camp - A Tribute to 9-11-01

Some years back I went camping with some friends in the beautiful setting of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  The whole experience was exhilarating.  There we were by a rushing mountain stream with a crackling fire, a bag of marshmallows for roasting on a stick, some good stories and good friends.  I remember thinking to myself, “why don’t I go camping more often?”  But then, there was nightfall.  

The temperatures dropped to a cool 30 degrees and I longed to just sink into my cozy sleeping bag and zip it up over my head and dream of the next day’s adventures.  My friends decided to go up to take a hot shower, leaving me with the tent all to myself.  I had decided to really enjoy the camping experience.  I would skip the shower and just wear the day’s grime to bed.  It seemed more realistic some how.  Showering could be done at home and only served to take away from the overall camping smell I had worked so hard to obtain.  There was the smell of the smoke from the fire in my clothes and the smell of the well deserved perspiration from the earlier hiking trip up to Crabtree Falls.  I wasn’t about to wash away all of these camping merit badges and so I bid them goodnight and disappeared into the tent with my camping lamp.

While my friends were up enjoying the hot showers, I was bedding myself down into my warm, snug sleeping bag.  I left the lamp on so my friends could easily find their way back to the tent.  As I slipped into my bag I remember feeling proud of myself for being brave enough to wait alone in the tent.  As I lie there all alone, I could hear the stream hurrying past all of the smooth rocks piled in its path.  There was a slight breeze causing the trees to sway with a cracking sound as if a limb might give way any second, but I wasn’t afraid.  It was a glorious night and I was warm and content in my sleeping bag.
As my eyes were explored the inside of the tent, I suddenly noticed some movement.  It was a shadow, perhaps from the trees.  But wait, the shadow was growing.  It seemed to cover the entire tent.  Were those branches?  I rubbed my eyes so that I could better focus and when I stopped blinking I could make out a shape.  There was what looked like a spiked circle at the top of the tent with six, no, eight squiggly lines running from it.  What is it?  As my brained raced through all of its files to match the shape on the tent to an identifiable object, my heart found the answer first.
I started kicking and screaming.  I was trapped in my stupid sleeping bag in a stupid tent surrounded by a giant, woman-eating spider.  I finally managed to rip the zipper down on the bag enough that I could push myself out of the small opening.  It must have looked like a slug giving birth to a human being.  I threw everything I could get my hands on at the giant monster, trying to divert its attention while I escaped out of the tent into the night air and into the startled faces of my friends.
My friends stared back at me as though they were watching a scene from their favorite movie.  I frantically ran around looking for a huge rock or piece of wood to fling at the creature.  I was willing to risk my life for my friends because apparently they were in a state of shock and couldn’t defend themselves.  Finally, one of them grabbed me and shook me so hard I had whiplash for a month.
"What is wrong with you?  Why are you screaming and throwing things? What happened?” my friend, Jan asked.  As I looked into her eyes, I could see she was more terrified of me than of the huge creature sitting on our tent.
"IT’S A GIANT SPIDER, CAN’T YOU SEE IT?” I asked, pointing at the tent.  But as I looked, I could see there was nothing there.  It had gone as quickly as it had appeared.  There was silence.  All eyes were on me. 

"Watch her,"  said Jan.  I’ll check out the tent.  

While the others stood guard over me and glared at me like I was an escapee from a mental ward, Jan reappeared laughing at the top of her lungs. 

"Is this what you saw? she asked holding up the lamp to reveal a small, frail, scared spider trying desperately to climb out of the back of the tent.  “He probably walked near the lamp and his body was blown up into a giant spider shadow and sent you screaming into the night.” she brilliantly pointed out. 

Poor guy. He looked as scared as I felt. He was only looking for a little warmth and a place to sleep and I had created havoc and mayhem instead. 

My friends went inside the tent, shaking their heads, laughing and recalling over and over again how my faced looked as I came flying out of the tent, running for my life.  Jan told me later that their flashlight had broken, but they had no trouble finding the tent because they just followed my terrified scream.  I was humiliated.
Everyone took their place inside the warm tent.  The snickers and remarks continued for a while longer until they finally gave way to the snorts and whistles of my friends sleeping.  But I stayed awake.  I was sure that the theory about the lamp and the shadow were true, but you never know.  It would be a long night, but exhilarating, none the less.
PSALM 27:1
“The Lord Is My Light And My Salvation—Whom
Shall I Fear? The Lord Is The
Stronghold Of My Life—Of Whom Shall I Be
The events of September 11, 2001, left me terrified and shocked. I actually remember thinking to myself that from then on nothing would ever be the same.  For the first time, my future felt threatened. I had a hard time seeing beyond the horrible sights of that day. I was glued to my television set like everyone else, trying to make sense of what I had just seen and heard. My fear level was at an all time high. I feared for my country and for my family’s safety and security. I suddenly realized how fragile my life was and how vulnerable we all are. I cried out to God for comfort and peace, and I found it in His Word. Psalm 27 asks “Whom shall I fear?” I learned that I could not rely on the world for my well-being, but that I had to place my trust in God to keep me safe and to place my hope for the future in Him. Psalm 27 goes on to say, “Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear, though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.”  My fears began to subside.  
God’s Word reminded me that He was my foundation and that His promises are true. In this world, we will have troubles, but Jesus has conquered the world. We’ve already won. There is nothing to fear. If He is for us, who can be against us? We face many fears throughout our lives: fear of man, rejection, failure, being alone, etc. Sometimes we allow these fears to shape our lives, our decisions, and our future. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Don’t let fear be the deciding factor in your life. It can paralyze you and take away your dreams. Proverbs 3:5 tell us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” 
Sometimes we allow even the smallest fears to dictate what we will or will not do, until that small fear turns into the dominating factor around which all our decisions are made. Make a list of your fears and tackle them one by one. Look to God’s Word for encouragement and guidance. He has made you the head and not the tail. Don’t let the enemy use fear to control your life and your future. After all, God has made us more than conquerors through His love. 
Take the time to read Psalms 91 today.  You will see that the enemy is really very small.

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