The story of Bruce and the spider is a familiar one to every child growing up in Scotland.
The determination of a little spider attempting to swing out on her line from one side of a cave to the other. Six times she met with defeat but on the seventh attempt she triumphed much to the amazement of her onlooker, the beliguered leader of the scottish rebellion, Robert the Bruce. Her tiny act of determination spurred him on to try one more time to rally his troops against the english army, against whom they had fallen six times. The seventh attempt was the resounding victory at the Battle of Bannockburn afterwhich Scotland gained it’s independence with Bruce as king.
It’s a great story and a perfect example of, ‘if at first you don’t succeed try, try again’. Like Bruce, we all meet with times of discouragement and need to see or hear something that will rouse the hero within and encourage us to carry on….but is that always the thing to do? Are we to hang on with dog eared determination every time, or are there times when we have to accept defeat, to put something down that was held on to so tightly, to move on and do something new rather than willing oursleves to, ‘never, never, never give up.’
I have another image in my mind, this time not of a spider swinging on a thin thread but of a couple called Tarzan and Jane….yes, you know the ones I mean, swinging out from one jungle vine to the next! Their forward motion is a process of holding on and then letting go at the right moment to grab hold of the next vine that is going to take them further. The previous vine that brought them this far, if held onto for too long would only swing them backwards and hinder them in their journey. Their letting go is not a negative but a positive. Not defeat but progress.
So, sometimes we have to fight and hold on with every bit of strength and determination we find within us and other times we need to let go to make progress. The challenge is knowing which one is called for this time…
Of course, there is no formula, but two pieces of advice we have received over the years have made some things easier.
The first one is, ‘whatever you do, do it as if you are going to do it for the rest of your life.’ Or put differently, ‘wherever you are, be all there’…that’s holding on and giving something your best as long as you have to. This helps you to make quality decisions and when the time comes to move on you can be satisfied that you gave it all you’ve got.
The second one is, ‘hold everything lightly in your hand’ so that when the time comes to let go you don’t have to struggle with a clenched fist. That may sound limp and non-commital to some but if you are holding an open hand before a loving Father who knows what is best for you, it is a case of confident trust. This is the joy of the Christian who can commit their way to the Lord, knowing that they can trust His judgement.
So whether you’re like the determined spider or Tarzan and Jane you can swing out into the irresistable future believing that the best is yet to come.