Our oldest son Ethan left his pet tarantula for us to care for while he is at college. Yesterday when I went to toss her a grasshopper, I found her on her back looking very dead. After a brief moment of fear, I realized this is how tarantulas look when they molt.
About once a year an adult tarantula will outgrow its exoskeleton so it must shed the old skin or it will die. In order to slide out of the old skin, a tarantula must put itself in a vulnerable position, exposing its soft underbelly to predators so it can be in a position to slough off the old to expose the new. Once the old is gone, the tarantula then has room to roam, to grow, and to live.
As I watched her caught in this state of vulnerability I realized we are not much different than she. We often think that growing in God’s grace is to place ourselves in a safe cocoon protected from the outside world. The truth is that to box ourselves into safe places keeps us from growing. A church caught in doing things the old safe ways often chokes itself to death in its tight little box that makes no room for new ideas and new people.
But, to follow God is to make one’s self vulnerable. It means we have to come out of our safe places and try new things with new people. Scripture does not change nor does God, but the way we present the same old faith just might.
My family and I are moving out of the local church; a move that makes me very nervous. There is no security anymore. No more churches to provide houses. No more denominations to provide insurance and retirement. No more family and friends to just pop in on for a visit. No more familiar cultural norms to lean on. We are utterly vulnerable.
Yet, God continues to show up in powerful and beautiful ways. We were told it can take up to two years for new missionaries to raise funding. God has helped us raise a great deal of the funding we need in three months. We thought we were going to be alone, but our journey has led us to meet many new friends of varied Christian traditions. I cannot wait to see what God does when we actually leave home!
By watching that tarantula God has reminded me that we cannot become strong until we first become vulnerable.
2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.