Friday, June 3, 2011

Do the Wasps Ever Win?

It’s a battle I’ve seen before in the arena between the window and the screen in front of which I sit for many hours a day every week. A very ordinary spider, actually rather small in stature, is energetically attaching his/her web to the various parts of a much larger wasp. The wasp has struggled valiantly, obviously trying to attack its attacker. But the battle seems to be lost. The wasp isn’t going anywhere, as far as I can tell. And although he continues to writhe periodically, he is still suspended securely in the sticky cradle the spider has created for him.

Such tiny little threads. It would seem that the wasp should be able to break free, he having so much the size advantage in this situation. And still the spider flits about the helpless insect, tying his legs just as I saw my daughter do through pictures of a recent calf branding session in Arizona. I won’t be surprised to see him dangling inertly in that place tomorrow, the fight all gone, his spirit fled.

I observed the wasp earlier this morning, kind of hanging out on the screen. Yes, there’s a hole in the screen. I don’t know if he got lost, or curious, or brazen. After all, that little speck of a spider down in the corner...what could he possibly do to interrupt my stroll through here? And so he stayed.

Now, I’m much more powerful than the spider. And if I had wanted to, I could have released his victim. But this is nature in action, and in this case I let the process go forward.

However, it has caused me to think about all the times that we loiter in the neighborhoods we shouldn’t be in, areas where annoying little dangers lurk in the corner. But obviously, they’re no match for me. I could break free any time I wanted to and leave. Right?

And then a scripture comes to mind. Second Nephi 26:22 tells us that the devil “leadeth them by the neck with a flaxen cord, until he bindeth them with his strong cords forever.” An insidious plan indeed! Attach a little cord to my lips, when I might allow something out or something in that would defile me. Bind my hands with laziness and unwillingness to serve. Confine my heart that it can no longer feel the Spirit. And the coup de grace, inject the poison of skepticism and cynicism into my mind that all things become as brass, allowing no warmth inside.

It begins with things so small, so insignificant. It ends up in misery. In fact, while searching for the scripture I referenced above, I found an interesting quote from C. S. Lewis: “The safest road to Hell…is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” (The Screwtape Letters, p. xi)

However, the good news is that we are not wasps. We are the children of a Heavenly Father who loves us and who will come to our aid. We may have to struggle for a while. We may have to develop some strength of character on our own as He watches over our development. But if we ask Him in sincere and obedient faith, He will come in a thousand ways and help us free ourselves of the strong cords as well as the flaxen ones. It’s not an easy process, but it is a possible one. It is not free, but it is provided by love and mercy to those who repent and return.

Well, it didn’t take until tomorrow morning. An hour later, the battle is done. The wasp is still; the spider sits back in his corner, triumphantly awaiting his next hapless victim. On the windowsill rest the remains of previous captures, all life drained out of them.

May we take a weekly inventory, at the least, of the flaxen cords that hinder our lives. And for those of us who feel powerless over the strong cords of addiction and dependency, I promise you there is a way to be freed. Nephi tells us how. He reassures us that the Lord (Jesus Christ) “. . . loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation. . . . but he saith: Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price.” (2 Nephi:24-25, selections)

The road back is through a broken heart and a contrite spirit, a heart that recognizes the problems and a spirit that acknowledges its own need of outside help. Take all the baby steps on the road back until you can eventually soar. It can be done.

I don’t know if the wasps ever win in their battles with the spiders. But I do know that Heavenly Father’s children will always have a way back if they exercise faith in Jesus Christ and obedience to His commandments. It’s a process. but (to quote another wise man), “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” (Confucius)

Whatever that step, no matter how small, take it. Please. We love you and want you to succeed. We want to see you fly.