Glancing up out of the window as I worked, my eye was caught by a movement. As I shifted to see what it was, I realised a small, almost translucent spider was hauling his groceries back to his home up in the eves. I say hauling because the insect he had spun his thread around was enormous compared to him. He was so confident and self-assured, never doubting his ability as he darted further up his line, pulling the load up another centimetre, and then down again, checking the insect wasn’t breaking free, casting another few intricate lines around it, and then up again, hauling again, and so on.
As I watched, the word “valiant” dropped into my mind.
Taking some photos of something that is a well-known phenomenon, but one I rarely see, I thought about what God might be saying to me about this. I reflected on what it means to be valiant.
It is not a word we use much lately. In fact, I think it is one of those “c” words that are regularly dismissed in our current climate. And before you get worried, I am talking of character.
A conversation we have had on numerous occasions with our children, especially as they have got older is about the importance of character. It is not a discussion that has always been appreciated. Character seems to have become a dirty word in our society today. Gifting and looks have so much more appeal and are much easier to see.
Unfortunately, it is not just a societal issue. I have been in a number of churches where people are often praised, honoured and uplifted for their giftedness, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. However, it is rare we talk about the value of character and integrity, and even rarer that we would honour someone for having good character – can you imagine it: “And this week, we just want to highlight a couple of people for their character and integrity. John did really well at removing himself from the room when all his colleagues were looking at pornography at lunch time, and Betty didn’t lose her temper once, even when someone cut her off in traffic.”
Character is not easy to measure and can be really awkward to praise. It tends to be much more obvious when it is lacking!
So my valiant little spider piqued my interest, as this is not a word we often hear.
However, it did connect in well to another word God had given me just the day before.
As I asked a friend how she was doing, she responded, “Oh well, you know.” Straight away, the words, “Your feet are on the rock” came out of my mouth.
Over the next little while, more bits and pieces were added to this in my head. First it was Psalm 40:2, “He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand”. This was closely followed by the words to the song, “Made me Glad” – “He has set my feet upon a rock and I will not be moved”.
What stood out to me most in this is that we don’t get to stand on the rock, we don’t get that choice.
So often, we can feel as though we have to do all the hard work, the “heavy lifting”, to keep ourselves from being swept away or blown around by shifting winds. This impacted me so strongly: we don’t have to work hard to stay standing on the Rock – He is actually holding us there.
How does this link in with the valiant spider?
The definition of valiant is: “possessing or showing courage or determination”.
Personally, we have some circumstances going on in our life at the moment that we have great faith for certain outcomes, and total peace about them. However, the resolution of these situations is seeming a long time coming. We are tired. We have had enough. We would really love to move into the next season. But we are still waiting.
In the middle of this, God has reminded me of two things. One was a dream I had nearly twelve months ago where we were searching for buried treasure. When we found where it was hidden, we had to screw off a metal plate with a special tool. We kept turning, but every time we thought it would open, there was still another turn. However, eventually it did open.
The other memory was of a picture God gave me of Jesus tying sandals on my feet. They were like Roman soldier’s sandals, with straps up around the calves, which He tied carefully and firmly. The idea was that these were shoes to give stability and help me to walk for a long time without getting tired or sore. It was a reminder that He has already given me what I need to get to the end.
Reflecting on this, I realised that this is something of the nature of God He is showing me. He has already gone ahead. He knows what we need well ahead of time and gives it to us so we can succeed on the journey He has for us. I sense that Still, Small Voice speaking into my soul,
"Be valiant, little one. Continue in the courage and determination I have given you, in confidence that it will be more than enough to get you through."
Finally, He gave me one more picture. It was of a surprise party. This was the end point. There is a party at the end. And even if you are like me and don’t like surprise parties so much, this one is perfect, as God knows exactly what we would like for the perfect party: the right food, the right entertainment, the right décor, atmosphere and guests. We are guaranteed to have a great time. All we need is the courage and determination to keep putting one foot in front of the other, and just like my little spider friend, we will get home.
"I will bless the Lord forever
And I will trust Him at all times
He has delivered me from all fear
He has set my feet upon a rock I will not be moved
And I'll say of the Lord
You are my shield, my strength
My portion, Deliverer
My shelter, strong tower
My very present help in time of need"
Hillsong - Made Me Glad