Fog clinging to spider web

 

A few years back, I had the opportunity to live in Germany for a time. The place where I lived included a sizable yard. Often in the mornings, I would stroll through the yard enjoying the freshness of the air before the day got started. One corner of the yard even offered a view of the nearby lake.

Then one morning, as fall crept near, a fine mist greeted me. A low dense fog hung in the air so thick I could feel it. The sky was grey and the view of the lake was gone. The grass in the yard, though cut short, quickly soaked my shoes and pant legs. The whole world seemed damp and grey and mysterious.

As I strolled through the yard that foggy morning, I saw something I’d never seen before. The hedge that lined one fence was spotted with spider webs!

I’d walked along that very hedge countless times, never noticing a single web, but now they stood out vividly!

Puzzled, I moved closer. I stooped to study one. To my astonishment, every strand of the web held tiny droplets of mist. As a result, the web was illuminated against the green of the hedge.

While spiders are certainly not my favourite critters, I couldn’t help but appreciate the intricate beauty of these glistening webs! At the same time, knowing just how many spider webs existed on those hedges was a little unnerving.

Later that morning, I was able to slip outside for a few minutes again. The world seemed completely transformed. The sun shone warm and friendly. The sky was blue. Not a hint of the mist from the morning remained. Not a single spider web shone with droplets. The beauty of it was gone. Only my memory of the stunningly intricate webs remained. (Until the next morning, that is, when the fog again hung low.)

So why do I share this memory now? What significance does it have?

Sometimes in my life, it feels as though a fog looms near, grey and heavy. Such fog makes it hard to see what I’m doing or where I’m going. Yet in the midst of the grey-ness, the fog illuminates something in me.

Just as the fog illuminated the spider webs, so in my life the fog sometimes brings visibility to things I had not seen before. Perhaps those things will be stunning webs of intricate design. However, they may be ugly, messy strands of cobweb sending a shiver of disgust down my spine.

       

The Bible uses a different illustration to explain that the way we’ve spent our lives will become visible one day.

“For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” (1 Corinthians 3:11-15 ESV)

Perhaps the foggy seasons in my life are God’s way of giving me a sneak preview of how I’ve been living? Have I been using my life to build what has lasting beauty, or have I been building with straw and hay, mere cobwebs that will be swept away?

When the fog illuminates those unseen parts of my life, may I remember to bring every concern straight to God. He can help me learn to build what has lasting beauty so that, when the fog rolls in, I may not be ashamed of what I see.

Then I can join Paul in saying:

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:7-8 ESV)

 

 

 

 

 

 

(If you want to see the incredible spider web photos I used in their original state, you can view them on Unsplash here.)

Purple flowers with barren woods in background

 

Some years back, I was blessed to be able to spend several months in Germany. While there, I often sought time alone with God. One of my favourite places to walk by myself was a quiet wooded area with a gentle winding creek.

One afternoon, with only a few weeks left in my stay, I wandered down this same path. It was March. On recent walks, I had observed bold green grass poking its way past dull faded leaves from the autumn before. Today, however, I stopped in my tracks and stooped to look closer. A tiny purple flower smiled up at me.

A few inches away I spotted another delicate purple flower, and another. Straightening, I marveled at the multitude of these little flowers scattered richly throughout the emerging grass. A smile touched my face as I took in the beauty of it. It seemed to me that the forest was coming alive!

Walking further, I tried in vain not to step on the delicate beauties – they were everywhere! For so long this forest trail had consisted of tired browns and dull greens, but now new life sprung forth.

Suddenly a sober thought hit me. In mere weeks I would be leaving this place which I’d come to love. I would never see the full bloom of this quiet path I’d strolled along countless times.

It was then another thought came, like a question whispered into my heart: “Are you willing to follow Me, even if you never get to see the blossoms that come from your labour?”

I stood still, a sorrow deep in my soul. I knew my answer was yes, but it would require God’s help for me to remain diligent. At that moment I grieved a little for the blossoms I would never get to see.

The seeds of those delicate purple flowers laid dormant all winter. Only as spring came had they popped up overnight.

In the Bible we read:  “[Paul] planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 CSB

My role is to serve by planting seeds of the Gospel and watering where the seeds are already planted. However, it is God alone who can make those seeds grow. Whether or not I get to see the result of my planting and watering is up to Him.

What will this look like in my life? I don’t know. Rather, by God’s help I will follow Him, even when I don’t see the reward of my toil. I will trust Him to use my life, even when I can’t see it.

“But I said, ‘I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing at all. Yet what is due me is in the LORD’s hand, and my reward is with my God.'” Isaiah 49:4 NIV

 

Looking back through history, there are examples of Christian men and women who obeyed God faithfully for years before seeing any blossoms spring up. Some of them never saw the result of their faithful labours. Can you think of any examples? Please comment below.