Some people, it seemed, had to rain on every parade, and Barb’s upcoming mission trip was no exception. She was scheduled to spend the next year working in a small village in the Amazonas state of Brazil, and while she was looking forward to the opportunities and experience, most of her friends didn’t share her enthusiasm.
“Spiders,” her best friend told her. “They have the biggest, freaky looking spiders down there. I saw a nature program where they went looking for them, and they’re huge! Barb, they’ve got fangs over an inch long, and they can be deadly!”
“Snakes,” her brother Bill said. “Have you seen the snakes they have along the Amazon? I saw pictures on the internet where an anaconda ate some guy. You don’t even hear them coming after you; you’re walking along, minding your own business, and WHAM! It strikes you, wraps you up in its coils, and squeezes the life right out of you. Then, it just swallows you whole, headfirst, and nobody ever sees you again.”
Funny; more people died each year from falling in the shower, but that didn’t stop Bill from taking one every morning.
She didn’t want to even get started on piranhas. She’d lost count of the number of people that were convinced every single freshwater river in South America contained vast schools of hungry piranha, just ready to strip her body down to the bare skeleton in seconds. All she had to do to send several people into inconsolable worry was to hint that she might go for a swim somewhere.
To listen to some people, the Great Commission actually read, “Go into all the world (except those places with scary fish, huge snakes, and big, freaky spiders), and preach the Gospel.”
Didn’t it occur to them that God had taken care of His people and protected them from scary fish during shipwrecks, from snakes in the wilderness, and while it wasn’t mentioned, from big freaky spiders in all kinds of places? She’d seen the pictures of the camel spiders in Iraq, which had once been Babylon, and the Children of Israel had survived their exile time there, hadn’t they?
Besides, in many cases, people’s fears were more in their heads than in reality.
She quietly sang a praise song as she went about the next set of tasks in her job. She would miss her charges when she left, but was thankful for the time she’d spent working the low-wage job.
The Reticulated Python flicked his tongue as she walked by the big, glass-fronted room, but since she’d fed him a couple of weeks earlier, he was lethargic and didn’t bother moving as she checked his water supply. He was easily as big as many anacondas, but had always been less troublesome than most of the small parakeets.
She had already cleaned the aquariums, including those of the larger, more aggressive fish, and wondered how many of the South American species she might see either off the side of a boat or being brought in by fishermen.
The final task of the day was checking the small animal enclosures, and she marveled at the beauty of the assorted lizards, small snakes, and arthropods the pet shop offered for sale. The jungles of South America weren’t someplace to fear, because God called her there and had also given her a love for all of His creatures.
Including the big, freaky spider she allowed to crawl on her hand as she cleaned its terrarium.
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