Small & Deadly

Most folks probably fear and flee large critters – but small things can kill.

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One vacationing site on the Scottish Highlands applauded Culicoides Impunctatus, the ferocious Highland Midge. It concluded that if there were fewer midges in the Scottish Highlands there would be more tourists and more tourists would spoil the scenic beauty that tourists come to see. It added cheerfully that no one had ever died from a midge bite. I don’t buy it.

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Painting signs in the Texas Hill Country, I was attacked by the midge’s American cousin, no see ‘ems. While balancing 20 feet up in the air on the metal rungs of a ladder, I battled to keep the invisible biting, stinging gnats out of my eyes. Keeping them out of paint was impossible. They love paint. Thus my straight, neat lines often wobbled as the brush pulled over the bodies of hundreds of still-struggling no see ‘ems.

The Scottish tourist site posted photos of folks wearing head masks and gloves to protect themselves from Scotland’s “nuisances.” Faces under the masks were totally blocked from sight from the layers of midges. Same with the gloves and outer clothing. One photo was a cupped hand piled high with black soil – no – make that “non-deadly” “nuisances,” midges.

With their sight blocked by midges, what if a hill walker gets too close to the edge of a cliff? What if I had fallen off the ladder? No one has died from a midge bite? Are we sure of that?

There’s a delightful folktale Travellers (gypsies) relate about how midges came to Scotland. I included it in my mystery-romance-suspense “Captive of Fear.”

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Watching baby ducks with Mom started me thinking about small things. Bites on my face and neck turned me from thinking cute to thinking kill. But how do you dispatch a cloud of insects that are virtually invisible?

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Something else small is deadly. Words. The Bible says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Cruel words break hearts, cause fights, and bring about death and suicide. James says, “The tongue is a little member and boasts great things…No man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” Jesus said that we are not defiled by what we put into our mouths – but by the words that come out of our mouths.

Some small things are cute – like baby ducks. Some small things must be handled with care – like words. Some small things are a nuisance – like midges. Are they deadly? I’d maintain that the jury is still out on that one.

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Broken Sticks…

One day that bat-fowled fiend satan was smarting off to God and God asked him, “Have you considered my faithful servant Job?” That ornery ole devil smarted off again and said that the only reason Job worshiped God was because God had blessed him so much. So God allowed that mean ole devil to take away everything Job had except his nagging wife. Job said, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away and blessed be the name of the Lord.”

So that cursed serpent said, “Let me at him again! Then he’ll cuss you up one side and down the other.” So God allowed slimeball, sleeze satan to touch Job’s body. I mean to tell you, that poor ole boy had boils from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet. He was so messed up he had to take his boots off to scratch. Job still blessed God.

Then along comes these three friends to comfort Job. Let me tell you: when you’ve got friends like these, you’re up to your armpits in enemies. They started in on Job something fierce about how he must have done something powerful bad to get punished by God and how he was a terrible secret sinner. After a bit, Job had had about all the comforting he could stand from these fellers.

So Job says, “How long will you torment my soul, And break me in pieces with your words?” (Job 19:1)

I challenge you. Take a stick and break it. Put it back together. Does it fit right? Is it as strong as it was before you broke it? Can you put it back together perfectly so that you can’t tell it’s been broken?

Your words can break people or heal them. When you get angry and break people with words, an apology never quite does the job of mending the relationship. There is always that jagged, hurting shard of memory that spoils the symmetry of the friendship and mars its previous flawless beauty.

Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Choose to speak life with your tongue instead of breaking sticks that will never mend.

At the end of Job’s story in the Bible, God held Job’s three friends accountable for their stick-breaking words. He told them they had not spoken what was right and true and ordered them to apologize to Job and have Job pray for them. Then…”the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning.”

Words are powerful. Communication is a gift from God. Use yours to build, not break.

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