Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Arthropods in Africa

When it is time to go to Africa, the one thing that creeps me out is the bugs. Spiders, centipedes, scorpions, mosquitoes that carry death, beetles that are the size of your hand and have vocal cords (I have heard some of them scream)... When I am here, thinking of there, the bugs scare me. There is a part of me that knows that they will find ways to invade my house and my space, and that I will have to come face to face with them. From a distance, I am afraid of the bugs in Africa.

There, it is different. When I am face to face with them, the time to be afraid is past. When a scorpion (or several) have invaded my tent, and I am searching them out in the black of night with a headlamp to make sure my sleeping space is secure, sandal in hand to crush them, it is too late to be afraid. The only way I can secure my house is to not act out of fear.

Recently I was faced with an equivilant to an African arthropod. At the thought of it, I was afraid. I imagined what it could do to me, how it would affect my future, why it had come. From a distance, it made me afraid. For several days I dreaded it in a deep place; the thought of it made me ill; I was robbed of joy. And yesterday, that thing came. With the derailment of all the plans I have made as of late, the time to be afraid was over.

I don't think that arthopods in Africa and facing fear in life is a perfect analogy. If it was, I would break down every aspect of it with a cheezy line of peppy encouragement. But, that's not how I roll. In a nutshell:
Bugs gross me out.
I don't get God when I think about them.
Unwelcome, they invade anyway, and living in fear is incompatible with contentment and joy...

So I don't know if you have a scorpion in your house tonight, or maybe one at the door. Here's a secret: people dealing with bugs are under grace to deal with them. A dear friend prayed when I went that I would find wonder and not fear in all of the critters. That prayer stood firm, and I believe that is possible with figurative arthropods too. Another dear friend, who radiates life and beauty, has her own deep reasons to be afraid. But today as we shared truth and raw and real about the arthropods in our lives, she posed the question a step further ... What if we were to embrace arthropods, like Both Paul and James suggest. What if they are a gift that brings life?

Another secret is that everyone who has ever really had impending suffering - even Jesus - begged that it would not come. The third secret of the night, is that despite how you are feeling as you read this, when the invader gets in your house, you will be more ready to deal with it than you are now. You are being made ready. You are going to be ok. And I have decided that I am too.


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