Monday, July 03, 2006

Sympathy for the Devil

So, I'm in Arizona for the holiday. As I went into the bathroom, I noticed what looked like a centipede crawling in the tub. The lack of traction yielded by the porcelain prevented it from climbing up the sides and escaping. So, it remained trapped, fruitlessly but diligently struggling.

My treaty with the insect kingdom reads thusly, "If I see you indoors, I will use every means within my disposal to kill you." There is an exception for spiders, who may serve as one of the "means within my disposal," as long as they are not web-slinging around my bed or my food.

Given the terms of our agreement, the bug should have been killed immediately, but I felt bad for him. To be honest, what I felt was more akin to empathy than sympathy. I know the feeling of having all the legs in the world and not being able to climb, no matter how hard you try.

Been there. Suffered that. I've been grounded on both sides of the faith-works seesaw. I've had more faith than I knew what to do with, but had visions never come to reality because I just couldn't seem to move into action. I've worked myself sick, but seen ministries die before my eyes because I refused to trust God to handle his end of the bargain. I've had all of the ability and knowledge that a job too, but still not been able to pull it off. I've spoken in angels' tongues, had gifts of prophecy, knowledge and faith, but still been useless because I didn't have love.

As I looked on, I was tempted to put the little guy out of his misery, especially after he succombed to learned-helplessness and went fetal in a corner near the drain. I thought better of it, thanking God that he never squashed and flushed me when all those times I finally gave up the struggle. That was usually about the time I finally turned to him.

In the end, the friend I am staying with noticed, killed and toileted the centipede, who actually turned out to be an earwig. I winced and hummed a bar or two of Taps as the swirling water whisked my fallen comrade off to the hell where all insects will spend eternity being pestered by annoying creatures even smaller than they.

I'll miss him... Okay, so I'm glad he's dead. But I am grateful for the lesson.

Along with my own issues, the little guy's predicament reminded me of the intro to 1 Corinthians 13 - the love chapter. In a nutshell, it says that even if I have every spiritual gift on record, if I don't have love I'm useless.


At 11:40 PM, July 04, 2006, Blogger Otis said...

I hope you don't mind passersby leaving comments but...

"...thanking God that he never squashed and flushed me when all those times I finally gave up the struggle. That was usually about the time I finally turned to him."

That's an amazing parable. Thanks.

At 8:22 AM, July 06, 2006, Blogger The Black Sheep said...

Don't mind at all, Otis. Thanks for stopping in.

At 12:24 PM, July 08, 2006, Blogger Ken said...


Thanks for the post ( I LOVED the title). Not only was it thought provoking, it speaks in the way I like best - taking observations from life and using them to illustrate spiritual points.




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