My wife, Sharon, is the only person I know who has been bitten by a black widow spider. One day she took her sweater from the coat rack, put it on and felt a sharp sting on her arm. She smashed her hand on the stinging spot, shook her sleeve and the flattened spider fell out. The telltale red hourglass-shaped marking on its shiny black body confirmed what it was. Sharon sealed her attacker in a plastic bag and took it with her as she drove to the hospital.
Everyone at the emergency room was excited because no one had ever seen, much less treated, anyone with a black widow bite. It seemed to Sharon the entire hospital staff stopped by to inspect the spider and the bite marks on her arm.
I was excited too when summoned from an out of town meeting to take a phone call. Sharon told the story and assured me the doctor said everything was okay. The anti-venom was on its way from Atlanta and would be at the hospital in a few hours. Most importantly, she had no extreme symptoms. I trusted her assurances, but it was still a long trip home to see for myself.
The doctor administered the anti-venom when it arrived that evening. Sharon spent the night in the hospital for observation and was released the next morning. Thankfully, the worst effects of the bite were the five days of mental fog she endured from the prescribed mega-doses of antihistamines.
“How did a black widow spider get in her sweater?” I claim the dubious honor as the agent of that. It was winter and we were using the fireplace, so at times I brought in pieces of wood and stacked them on the floor next to the wall. If you picture the wood on the floor next to the wall and move your gaze up, you come to…the coat rack. Apparently, the spider hitchhiked inside on a piece of wood, crawled up the wall looking for a dark hiding place and chose Sharon’s sweater sleeve.
Spiders don’t hide in our sweaters or coats anymore, because, after that episode I don’t bring wood inside the house like that. I learned the lesson that even things that can be good (wood for warmth) can bring things in that you don’t want in your house (poisonous spiders).
We as Christians need to diligently apply that lesson to many things – the television, books and magazines, music and the radio, and especially the internet. We are called to be holy because our God is holy, and in order to do that we must be careful of those unholy things waiting to bite us when we least expect it.
“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” Pro 4:23, ESV