I must admit, I have never been much of a game hunter. Having grown accustomed to the fast paced action of many sports, I cannot muster the patience to sit for hours waiting on the big moment. Perhaps it was rocks thrown as imaginary baseballs or even my play-by-play commentary that explain why my father only took me a handful of times. There is little I remember today of those experiences because I prayed the Lord would give me holy amnesia. However, as I sit in my office today and reflect on those moments together in the woods with my father, there are images I cannot erase. Of all the things my mind could have recorded, I can still see my father fighting the spider webs as we walked through the woods. That image brought a principle to mind today: he who walks first in the path catches the spider webs.
I find it interesting that this principle is found recorded across the centuries as God’s Word was penned. The Psalmist wrote “I have set the Lord always before me.” John the Baptist was “sent…before” to “prepare thy way..” In Christian circles, we talk so frequently about following the Lord, and proclaim it as our highest priority and desire in life. But, if we are truly following the Lord, why is it so many of our lives remain tangled in the spider webs of life? If you have ever observed an insect captured in a spider web, you know in spite of all its effort and energy, escape is difficult if not impossible. All of its movement only strengthens its capture. In every corridor of our lives, there are spider webs of distraction, discouragement, temptation, and difficulty awaiting. Whoever walks first into them determines whether we are victors or victims.
When Jesus walks first in our path, it positions our faith. I love the wording of Mark 10:32, “And they were in the way…and Jesus went before them…” Having just shared a difficult truth about riches, the disciples were “amazed and…afraid.” If you have ever found yourself in the midst of a spider web, you will recall there is one thing on your mind: WHERE is the spider who spun the web? When Jesus clears the path of our lives, He removes the obstacles of our fear. The rustling in the tops of the mulberry trees was just the Lord “going before thee” to smite the Philistines. The raging waters of the mighty Jordan river became merely a site-seeing aquarium once the ark was “before” the people. The strength of our faith is determined by our position, and too often we are simply “in the way.”
Capturing our spider webs preserves our fortunes. When Joseph finally revealed himself to his brothers, listen to his words recorded in Genesis 45:7, “And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity (remnant) in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.” Not every creature that finds its way into a spider web escapes. I am fully aware of every moment I missed the mark in life. However, I just wonder, how many falls and failures were awaiting me that I never encountered because Jesus went before me? The perfect wife was found for Isaac because the angel was “sent…before thee.” Moses found water in a rock for a thirsty, angry mob when the Lord said “I will stand before thee…” While we shower football running backs with accolades and fame, we must never forget it is the ones who went before them that made them what they are.
Removing a spider web from our path prepares our future. On resurrection morning, the angel told the ladies at the empty tomb in Mark 16:7, “…go your way, tell His disciples and Peter that He goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see Him, as He said unto you.” There is what I call the “residual effect” of a spider web. Long after we have encountered the spider web, we keep finding remains of its invisible net. To the disciples, Galilee was home. It was a place of safe harbor and sure hope. Getting back there, however, was filled with spider webs of tragedy, torture, and torment. Having gone before them, Jesus cleaned the webs from the window panes of time, and standing at the window seal of Galilee, they saw a calling “into all the world.”
Within the forest of each of our lives spider webs are sure to surface. Sometimes the sunshine reveals them. Sometimes the morning dew exposes them. But, more often than not, it is the person who walks first that removes them.
©2003 Alan Stewart
Alan Stewart: Dr. Alan Stewart has served as Senior Pastor of Rechoboth Baptist since December 1999. He attended The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Moody Bible Institute, Covington Theological Seminary, and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary.
Prior to pastoring the Tennessee church, Alan was an evangelist for 15 years. He has preached revivals/pastor’s conferences in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland. He also preached crusades/conferences in India, Hungary, and conducted a crusade in South Africa in August of 2009. Pastor Alan is married to Jeanne, and they are blessed with two children – Sierra and Seth.