The far corner of the web

Maxine watched her babies scurry out of the egg sack one after another. Before long, there were little spiders everywhere. Maxine had prepared for this day for a long time. She knew her babies would be hungry so she had saved a large moth in the far corner of the web.

Among the baby spiders was a special fellow named Elba. He was good. He had many brothers and sisters. One of them was not so good. His name was Bale.

Maxine gathered her children around her and told them that she had stored away food for them to eat. She said to follow the trail she had laid out across the web to the far corner. She warned them it was a long walk, but all they had to do was stay on the trail and keep moving. Maxine then left them.

These were hungry spiders so they started moving. Right away, though, Bale noticed a few flies stuck to the web, but off the trail. He was ready to eat now so he called out, “Follow me!”, and left the trail. The first fly was nearby so the little group quickly reached it. They all began eating.

Because the fly was so close by, many of the larger group still on the trail saw Bale’s group eating. They also disobeyed Maxine and followed Bale. At this point, Elba cried out, “Stop! Mama told us to stay on the trail.” Elba was small, much smaller than his brother Bale, and the spiders were hungry, so most of them ignored him.

By the time the larger group reached the fly, there was nothing left. It was just a shell with no food left inside. They grumbled to Bale. He looked around and saw another fly nearby, but farther off Maxine’s trail. He struck out for the next fly and the group followed.

Elba called after them, but then continued along the trail. He was not alone. Some of the spiders followed Maxine’s trail with him.

Bale’s group was surprised to find that the next fly was just a shell. There was nothing to eat inside. Some of the spiders looked back to the path and watched Elba moving away toward the far corner of the web. Some decided to follow. As more spiders started back towards Elba, Bale spied another fly, but even farther from the path. He called, “Another fly – and look how big and juicy it is!” This was not really true, but he really wanted the spiders to follow him.

Elba’s group kept moving, but it was a long way. Pretty soon they were all tired and very hungry. One of the group noticed a fly stuck to the web, but off the path. Even Elba was tempted to go to the fly. He took one step off the path, then another, but then remembered Mama’s words: “don’t leave the trail,” so he turned back and continued walking. Before long, he was all alone.

Finally, Elba reached the far corner of the web. He was so tired he couldn’t even eat. He felt himself falling, but then eight strong arms reached around him and carried him to the moth. When Elba opened his eyes, his tummy was full and his Mama was holding him. Maxine had been waiting all along.

The Bible tells us the story of Elijah, a prophet God sent to his people. Like Elba, Elijah tried to warn the people to stay on God’s path. They insisted on their own way, however, and chose to worship the false god Baal. Read I Kings 18 to see how God demonstrated His power to the people.

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About Tony Schmitz

Tony Schmitz received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from Temple University in 1993, his MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1996, and his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1999. He is a mechanical engineering professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
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