He was right, dead right, as he sped along
But he was just as dead as if he’d been wrong.
Frustration stiffens my neck and I fume inside. A pasty smile on my thin lips, thin pursed lips and the inside of my soul is burning. Again and again they flogged me, flogged my weary, worried body, bit into my soft skin with adder-venom and I bled. “Their words were like drawn spears . . . the poison of asps was under their tongue . . .” And it was so subtle, so “innocent,” so glassily beautiful, like a spider’s weaving in the placid night.
The spider wove, threw her lacey fingers into her work and fastened strand upon sticky strand together. A masterpiece of sticky threads, perfect and deadly, the poison waiting, the jaws immaculately poised. The poison of words, the thrashing of a moment, and the still shell of the victim after it all.
Unless . . . I do not fall into the web, into the web of deceit and distraction. Unless I thrust my body into the wind of truth and fly into the gust that drives me away from the woven prison.
Sometimes there is a choice—sometimes the spider seeks to pull us in, to distract us with her garish beauty, and we become so caught up, so entangled in the fight that we end up powerless in a web of sorts, frustrated and empty.
Often we fall prey to this attack. The enemy of our souls throws out his fiery dart, in the form of an argument, a misunderstanding, a blatant lie against us, a smearing of our reputation-unwarranted, unfounded, ungodly. The spider spins her web in the cover of darkness. The damage done, the adversary crouches in hiding.
We see the web and we want to fight. We think that if only we can get in close enough, we can do battle with the perpetrator, with the one who authored our pain.
Yet, if we enter into the web, our limbs become fastened, our hands tied, useless, the life sucked from our being—dead, cold, and still.
Years ago, I learned a valuable lesson, one that I find I must continually re-learn . . .
It was a lesson in humility.
And I faced two options, so I thought, vascilating between them both, at a loss for clarity and direction.
I found myself surrounded, as it were, on every side, and there was no respite, no reprieve in sight.
And the two options that seemed the most obvious to me were to either valiantly attempt to outsmart/outwit the adversary—I could do it graciously; I could do it in a godly fashion, so I thought—Or, to try to reason with my “offender;” maybe I would not slip and get entangled in the web that was laid like a death-trap before me.
I struggled and I fumbled and I failed until I learned that the answer was not to outsmart, to outwit. The answer was not to try to jump in and reason and then to pull myself out of the web that was intended for me.
The answer was humility.
There are times when another person, even another believer may set their will against yours, may seek to cause you harm, to wound your spirit, to render you powerless. Despite all of their best words, their intentions towards you are not peaceable; their words are smoother than oil, but are really a “drawn sword.” (Psalm 55:21) They do not wish you good; they intend evil toward you and would be very happy to see you fall into trouble or gain a bad reputation.
I remember so clearly a certain situation in which I had been misunderstood by some and deeply wounded by others. I sought my mother’s advice and what she said took me back and frustrated me at the moment, until I learned that it was freedom for me and the only way that I could keep my conscience clear before God and men.
She said, in essence, “Humble yourself, even if you are right, even if you have been done a great injustice. Humble yourself and pray that the Lord would enable you to sincerely love the person who is hurting you. Humble yourself and He will lift you up in due time. Do whatever it takes to show humility and grace towards those who have hurt you, for the sake of the Lord Jesus who bought you at a great price.”
She wasn’t talking about cowering before an unjust attack, but instead, holding one’s head up in the confidence of Jesus, forgiving as one who has also been forgiven much.
And if they accept it, good. May the Lord’s peace and grace and forgiveness reign in that situation. But if not, your conscience is set free to serve the Lord with fear and to continue in the path that the Lord has led you, to the glory of the Father.
Satan would have us become distracted—distracted by our own frustrations, distracted by the way that those around us are hurting us, distracted by our own emotions. It is foolish to become distracted and doesn’t bring glory to God nor do us or anyone else any good.
Humility keeps us from distraction, keeps our eyes fixed on Jesus, because they are no longer on ourselves. Humility emboldens and humility starves the pride that will maim the soul.
The forms that humility may take will differ, and the reactions to it will be different as well. But there will be freedom and joy at the root of humility, a freedom and joy that cannot be snuffed out by the one who antagonizes us, by the spite or the sarcasm or the ridicule of the one who does us harm.
And ultimately, the Lord, not I, is the one who can judge the utter motives of another’s heart. Perhaps you are surrounded by, as John Proctor described the lying witnesses in The Crucible, “marvelous pretenders.” The Lord knows the depths of each one’s inner being.
But we do not need to be bound by pretense—instead, by the power of the Holy Spirit we may walk in the light, as He is in the light, loving sincerely from the heart, walking in the grace of humility—“slow to speak, slow to become angry, quick to forgive.” (James 1:19)
And ultimately trusting that in the last day all pretense and pride will be swallowed up by the fire of His awesome, all-revealing truth—
“For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.” I Corinthians 4:4-5