Kill the Spider
A church member who ran a home Bible study always concluded his closing prayer the same way: “And, Lord, clean all the cobwebs out of my life.” What he meant by that was, in our lives, there are remnants of the misdeeds we have done. These cobwebs represent things that should not be but have gathered through the day, through the weeks, or longer.
We have to admit that there are cobwebs in our lives. For example, as I type this, there is a cobweb in my office in the corner of my window that I’ve been looking at for three weeks. I should just take care of it, but I haven’t (until this very moment). I have cobwebs in my basement(not because we don’t clean — we just don’t clean right there every week).
The same is true spiritually. Because “my sin is always before me” (Psalm 51:3), I see remnants of my sin all over the place. There is the card I never sent. There is the mark on the wall where I wasn’t careful moving the furniture. There is the unused offering envelope. There is the empty water bottle which should be thrown away. These remind me of things I should have done or shouldn’t have done.
It is good to clean out those spiritual cobwebs, especially as we begin a new year. We do that through daily contrition and repentance. We do that as we come to worship, confess our sins, and receive the assurance of our forgiveness in Christ. We do that as we partake in Holy Communion, “Given and poured out for you for the forgiveness of your sins.”
One more thing: as good a thought as the cobweb prayer was, when one hears it over and over, it can become tedious and trite — it loses its effectiveness. So, upon hearing “… clean all the cobwebs out of my life,” once too often, a frustrated member of the group, cried out, “Lord, don’t do it! Kill the spider! That’s what needs to happen.”
Truth be told, the frustrated member was right. Cobwebs are ultimately the result of a spider. If you kill the spider, you prevent the cobweb from forming in the first place. Really, that should be our prayer. Rather than clean up my messes after the fact, prevent them from happening in the first place.
Isn’t that what we are saying when we pray the petition, “Lead us not into temptation”? We are praying for God to kill the spider. “Lord, confound the work of the devil. Help us to see the traps he sets that we not stumble because of them. Help identify and overcome his evil plans by your power and working. Lead us by your Spirit to crush that which is wicked in us so that our spiritual houses may be kept clean.”
Cobwebs happen. Even in the cleanest of houses, we find these remnants of arachnid activity. So, what do we do? By all means, clean them up. But even better, find the spider and kill it. (Unless you are a spider lover; in that case, relocate it to a better outdoor setting.)
In your spiritual life, by all means repent of your sins. Clean out the spiritual cobwebs in your spiritual house. Even better, kill the spider; that is, put to death the devil and his temptations. Drive him from your home and make your home a dwelling place for the Lord.
~ Pastor Ben Golisch