It seemed so futile.
While sitting at my desk today, my ears were perked by a frustrated buzzing sound.
As I looked at the window in front of me, I saw the wasp that was desperately trying to get back out doors. He walked up and down the window pane, wings fluttering constantly in case he should finally step off of this invisible barrier and achieve his goal of the great wide open.
For 12 minutes he paced the glass, often times wandering farther away from the open window and his only escape to freedom, his only path to achieve his heart’s desire.
I occasionally tried to usher him in the right direction, using the window curtain or a piece of paper. To no avail; he was certain that if he just kept where he was, he would eventually get through. And had he moved 6 inches to the right, he would have succeeded. I wondered if it would ever happen. I considered whether or not I should just crush him against the glass, ending his frustration (and my own).
But I didn’t. After some minutes he made it to the top pane of glass, then shifted so that he sat just above the opened window. I could see that hope was in sight; would he take that final step down and around the window frame obstacle and find freedom?
While watching this wasp, I realized this was a perfect sermon illustration…5 months too late for a message that I gave earlier this year (which you can listen to from my Writings page; just scroll down to Sermon Audio).
In that talk, I reflected on how we can get distracted, even blockaded, from attaining the very good purposes we may have by becoming fixated upon the means, rather than the goal.
This wasp couldn’t get out the window because he was stuck on dealing with the window.
Similarly, we sometimes may struggle to attain the goal of really walking with God, engaging deeply with Him, because we may get distracted by the very avenues–spiritual disciplines, our own experience, worship, testimony, prayer, even Scripture–that should enable us to encounter God. All of these “windows” are excellent avenues for us to get a vision of relationship with God, and are effective means for us to meet with Him. Or at least they can be. They can also become a distraction to us if we end up obsessing over the means, and set aside the ends.
The wasp got out eventually. I don’t know how bruised he was after bashing himself against the inside of my window for nearly a quarter of an hour. I don’t know what emotions he encountered, what wounds he acquired, but I do know that he wasted a fair bit of time and energy…especially for an insect with a lifespan of just 12 days.
What about us? What are the goals of our own spiritual lives? What avenues do we have for walking those paths? And are we utilizing those avenues well, or are we enabling ourselves to become distracted? Are we caught up in some nuance of Scripture that’s preventing us from hearing God? Are we concerned about the format (or formula) of our prayer, rather than actually having a conversation with God? Are we embarrassed by our singing voice or lack of rhythm, rather than worshiping God? Are we spooked by the labels that others may ascribe to us, rather than enjoying a spiritual discipline as an opportunity to meet with God?
What windows are we butting up against, rather than walking through? In what areas of life are we internally proclaiming, “I just can’t get out”?
In addition to the sermon mentioned above (entitled “Windows & Rainbow Stickers“), another resource I’ve found helpful for this question is a book entitled Designed for Relationship, which looks at various aspects of who we are, and addresses challenges and opportunities for growth in each that can enable us to have the kind of interaction with God that we were intended for. Definitely recommended.