The Spider Story – Inspired by the Holy Spirit – Transcribed by Ed Achtenberg
This is the Spider Story which I feel was inspired by the Holy Spirit. This was the opening of a letter I sent out to several of my friends who are in prison and who may struggle with depression or feelings of helplessness.
A spider is confined in a bathtub that he had entered out of curiosity. Once there, he finds that he is in a domain of uncertainty and cannot get back out. He scrambles around the tub knowing the only way out is up, yet he cannot grip the walls with his legs in order to climb out.
He slows down, yet is persistent and continually seeks that spot in the walls of the bathtub where he can climb up and out to freedom, not knowing that there is no such way of escape. Suddenly, a hand comes down in attempt to grasp the spider and take him out. The spider is unfamiliar with this hand and scurries away in fear of this “Unknown”. The hand finally catches the spider and holds on tightly; the spider, living in fear of the unknown, squirms to no avail for he is tightly in the grasp of the hand and unable to escape. Finally, anxious, yet content, the spider stops squirming, for even though he desires to get away from this “Unknown”, he realizes that there is no escape, that, he is powerless, and so he relaxes. He senses he is traveling, on a journey of sorts, with this “Unknown” clinched around him. Moments later, even though it seemed like forever to the spider, he is released into new surroundings. Another unknown; yet, the spider is at peace, a peace mixed with mild fear and curiosity, thinking of what to do next. He is free but uncertain of his future… will he find relatives that will accept him? Will he have a tasty bug-meal waiting for him? Will he be threatened by another insect? Will a bird swoop down and have a mid-morning snack? Will a foot come by and squish him till he is no more? Where is his freedom? What is freedom? Where does he go from here?
Some thoughts came to mind…What if he never gets out of the bathtub? What if he were to die in captivity with no where to go, no food to eat? If the spider was not so worried about himself, he could have continued to search for a way out with the hope that he would get out, but with no set time frame set for that moment, therefore, no anxiety. What of the unfamiliar hand? What if he would have allowed that hand to help him, maybe to crawl up in it and stay still and let it take him on his journey? When he was put in a new environment, what if it was okay, and he sought to become familiar with his surroundings and not fear the what if’s? Where would this scenario bring him?
I have been, and at times still am, in the same predicament as this spider. I have wandered into the “bathtub of uncertainty” out of curiosity, and, not thinking of the consequences, focused on that which I want to do on my own. Then in a panic, I find myself looking for a way out because it’s not exactly what I expected. Fear races through me, I feel helpless and hopeless, for I am on my own; “I” have to get me out of where I am.
Then an “Unknown Hand” seeks to help me, but it is not entirely familiar to me, so at first I try to ignore it. If the “Unfamiliar” gets too close, I scurry away, and if it tries to capture me, I panic and become anxious, fearing the “Unknown”. I look for any way out. I try what I think are new avenues of “escape”, but if I stop and take a clearer look, I find that they are the same old avenues that didn’t work for me in the past and still won’t today. Little do I know that this “Unknown Hand” can lead me to freedom, a freedom I will never really be able to grasp on my own.
The “Unknown Hand” finally gets a hold of me with a firm but gentle grip. I can’t squirm much, there seems to be no escape. I cannot free myself. Initially, I am in a place of discomfort; I have no control of what is happening. What am I to do?!? Then, I realize that I am on a journey of some sort. After a few last attempts to escape from the grasp of this “Unfamiliar”, I start to relax, for what more can I do? I don’t have control of my situation or destination, and for now that is okay. We stop; the “Unfamiliar” has moved me in a new direction. Oh great! More uncertainty, will it never end? Finally the “Unfamiliar” releases me into a new surrounding. Something looks familiar, but not exactly what I remember, but it certainly is not the” bathtub” that I was trapped in. I hesitate in an exciting and curious fear of this new territory. Now it seems as though I am free, but free to do what? Do I see a bug – MMMM! LUNCH!
I have learned that I have the free will to make choices, and each choice will have a consequence, some of which are undesirable. You may choose that which you wish the “Unknown Hand”, the “Unfamiliar” to be, but as for me it is the presence and the hand of God. By putting my efforts into seeking His guiding Hand, I can acknowledge the old paths, to be aware of where I was and do not want to go back to. I have found that I cannot walk this journey on earth alone, I need God’s helping hand, and all of the people He has and will put in my path to help me on my way.