The story has been told of a believer, Frederick Nolan, fleeing from his enemies during a time of persecution in North Africa. They pursued him over hills and valleys with no place to hide. Finally, he felt exhausted into a wayside cave, expecting his enemies to find him soon.
Awaiting his death, he saw a spider weaving a web. Within minutes, the little bug had spun a beautiful web across the mouth of the cave. The pursuers arrived and wondered if Nolan was hiding there but seeing the unbroken and unmangled piece of art; they thought it impossible for him to have entered the cave without dismantling the web. And so, they went on. Having escaped, Nolan burst out and exclaimed:
“Where God is, a spider’s web is like a wall,
Where God is not, a wall is like a spider’s web.”
How often I wanted to gather your children together the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings! But you were not willing! (GWN) Luke 13:34b
Jesus Christ has shown himself more than willing to receive and entertain any poor soul that comes to him and put themselves under his Lordship.
“How often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen gathereth her brood under her wings, with such care and tenderness!”
How willing are we to give up control to God?
I can’t speak for other sinners, but I personally like to be in perceived control of my life. Now mind you, I have not often done a great job with that control, but I still love the idea that I am in control. Take a step back and look at the reason we sinners struggle with the above verse.
It summarizes a struggle we have with Jesus for control. Jesus enlightens us with the divine truth here. You are not protected, not under the wings of Jesus, because of one reason, our “unwillingness.” God didn’t turn His back on us. It’s just the opposite. We reject His care. People chose self-reliance. Our strength is more appealing. Independence rules that day.
The ‘pull yourself up by your own bootstraps’ mentality has led us to desire to do things our way. Consequently, we come running to God when our strength fails. This desire for control left the blood of Jesus on Israel’s head and covered ours as well. Jesus laments the choices humanity makes. You read that remorse in the verse above.
Oh, how I wished you had taken a different path. If you made wise choices, would it be better for you to trust the One who cares for you deeply? Jesus cares for you. His care led Jesus to give His life to save you from your sins.
As we face the tough choices and times in our lives today, may God guide us. May He encourage us to trust in Him. The Holy Spirit points us back to the power of the Cross. “It is my desire to gather you, to protect you from the trials of life, and through the blood of Christ gives you eternal life.” So often, amid life’s most challenging moments, we feel alone, isolated, wondering where God in all this is.
Know that God is there. Waiting to bring you under His protective wings if you are willing to give up control. God stands ready to encourage, ready to protect. Are you listening, are you seeking, are you willing? Maybe we are not trusting that the spider web is God’s wall and seeing only the spider web?
Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, gives us hearts ready and willing to receive that word of encouragement and the protection offered by you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Rev. B. Keith Haney is Assistant to the President for Missions, Human Care, and Stewardship of Iowa District West. He has been an ordained pastor for twenty-seven years and has served multi-ethnic urban congregations in Detroit, St. Louis, and Milwaukee. He is the author of numerous devotionals, including One Nation under God: Healing Racial Divides in America. He is married to Miriam (Bickel) Haney, and they have six children and two grandchildren.