Some of you may not know that Tim & I have an unusual hobby - we keep bees. For the past four years we've had varying numbers of beehives on our property and most of the time we let those bees bee themselves. (Beekeepers also are notorious for lame bee jokes) But several times a year we have to put on our bee suits and check the hives; add or remove hive boxes or harvest honey. Last week the head beekeeper (that's Tim, not a euphemism for God) asked me to go out and check the hives. So I put on my bee suit late one afternoon, grabbed my bucket of tools and headed over to the hives.
One tool beekeepers often use is a smoker. This is a hand-held canister with a small billows on it so smoke can be blown onto the bees when you open their hive. The smoke calms them down, so they're less likely to see you as an intruder and a threat. I was not planning to spend much time looking in each hive, so I decided not to bother with getting the smoker out. "It's kind of a hassle," I thought. "Plus, I'll be in and out in a few minutes. No need to bother with lighting the smoker today."
I opened our first hive and went through looking at the frames in each box fairly quickly. I noted the amount of honey they had, whether they had lots of brood and eggs in frames, and if they seemed to need more space. After I finished that hive, I wrote down a few notes and moved to the next hive. Everything was going well, until I held a frame up to the light to check for eggs. At that point, my mesh face mask fell against my face and one of the several bees that had landed on me decided to take advantage. Pop! Stung! Right on the nose!
"Aarrgh! Come on! Are you kidding me?!" I yelled, then hurriedly closed up the hive and retreated to the house to treat my nose. I spent some time icing it, wrote down my notes and decided I better go ahead and check the third hive. I briefly thought "Maybe I should light the smoker", but once again decided I wouldn't be looking in the hive for long, so I headed back out to the bee yard.
I opened the lid to the third hive and had just pulled out a few frames to check them when the bees decided to mount a coordinated attack. When a honey bee stings, she releases a pheromone that encourages other bees to sting as well. Apparently that pheromone smells like Wrigley Juicy Fruit gum, which I could smell as eight bees stung me almost simultaneously. I can be stubborn, but I know when I'm beat! I closed this hive even faster than the others and took off across the yard. It took almost ten minutes to convince the bees to stop chasing me. I finally made it into the house to treat my eight new stings and contemplate my decisions and failures as a beekeeper.
Are we sincerely following God when we rely on ourselves or are too lazy or complacent to use the tools He's given us to use?
So, what does Lindsay getting stung nine times by her own bees have to do with Revelation 2-5? As you read through chapters 2 and 3, you'll read the letters to the churches. All of these churches have been following Jesus for some time, but nearly every one has at least one "thing against you" mentioned in the letter. How did these groups of believers get to a point where they "have forgotten their first love," or "fear suffering,” or are "following a false teacher?” Some are even called "lukewarm in their faith" or "have incomplete works.” I think for many of them, as well as many of us, their problems began when they stopped relying on the tools they had been given - The Word and Jesus' teachings, prayer, true worship and fellowship with other believers, and instead became lazy or too reliant on themselves and not God. Are we sincerely following God when we rely on ourselves or are too lazy or complacent to use the tools He's given us to use? How would our walk, our worship, and our church look different if we all used the tools and gifts He has given all the time, instead of just when it's convenient or not a hassle? Maybe some of life's frustrations and pains would sting a little less. Maybe our worship would be more meaningful and sincere. And maybe the next time He nudges one of us with an idea, we would be more willing to respond.
Lindsay and her husband Tim raise bees, chickens and kids just outside Fayetteville. When she's not busy with those three things, or teaching Pre-K P.E. in Springdale, you'll usually find Lindsay playing/watching/coaching soccer, traveling, camping, or reading. Lindsay can also often be found striking up conversations with bewildered strangers in the grocery aisles, trying to practice her Spanish or Mandarin.