Chigger Crazy

Even though no one in their right mind would EVER label me a morning person, some of my best thinking is done pre-coffee as I’m getting ready for work. Spiritual analogies always hit out of nowhere and send my sluggish mind reeling down a dark passageway, frantically chasing the pinpoint of light that flashed ever so briefly. And this morning the trigger was…well, a chigger.

Tiny, microscopic mites that live in tall grass and have the power to turn a completely sane person absolutely crazy in a mere matter of days. These little monsters itch like nothing you can imagine. Technically they’re “harmless” but they’ll make you miserable, consume your thoughts, rob you of precious sleep…seriously. Google them if you need further convincing.

My initial encounter with chiggers was after my first trip to Costa Rica. The night I returned home, I woke up itching like a mad woman, having no clue what was going on. Thinking bed bugs might have traveled home in my suitcase, I inspected my sheets and upon seeing nothing, dumped every piece of fabric I owned in the washing machine. Immediately. But nothing helped…the itching grew worse and worse and when several of the participants texted me the next day describing the same symptoms, we collaborated to find the cause, but with no luck. We suffered together for a few days thinking we had contacted some foreign skin disease before my mom, who is a Kentucky native, saw the bites and casually mentioned that they were just chiggers. Just chiggers. Personally, I think it’s quite possible they are the enemy’s smallest demon. Needless to say, some days I’m extremely grateful for the internet and that was one of those days. Researching the “cure” taught me that they spread when you scratch and then touch another area of your body. Basically you can’t touch them at all and (a couple of weeks later) they’ll go away. Which is much easier said than done when the itching is so bad you’re tempted to amputate your own leg. But eventually… away they went.

When I was back in Costa Rica the following month, I was talking with my Canadian missionary friends and Doug made reference to a mystery skin rash that was getting the best of him. Upon my request, he rolled up his pant leg and… you got it. Out of control chiggers. Thankfully I could offer him a diagnosis and the cure, if not any sort of immediate relief. I knew from experience that time and patience would be the only thing that could restore his sanity.

I’ve had them several times since, due to hiking through Costa Rican valleys or having sword fights with long blades of grass and running through fields in Guyana. While I’m nowhere near fond of them, they’ve simply become part of the territory and each case has become less and less bothersome as I’ve learned how to handle them. Just a few weeks ago when I was in Guyana, several of us got up at 6am to milk a neighbor’s cow with him. We stumbled down the road and up to his house with death grips on our coffee mugs, only to be led right back out the gate, to the plot of land next door and down a barely visible path which, at points, boasted chest high grass. As visions of chigger bites danced in my head, I took a deep breath, raised my arms (and my prized caffeine) way over my head and plunged into the field. Miraculously, I managed to return to the US with only 2 bites and this morning realized that those same two bites are about gone. I finally managed to defeat them without them spreading! Was it tough? Yes, especially at first. I wanted to rub away the top layer of skin on my hip. But I clenched my teeth and refused to give in because I knew that temporarily enduring would save me days, if not weeks of misery after which the only cure would be to do what I should have done in the first place.

At the risk of being preachy and over-spiritualizing a bug bite, this whole 4+ year scenario really reminded me of James 1:14-15 this morning, “but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” We’re told that everything God created was good, and if anything good ever came from a chigger, it could be this reminder: Sin, in all it’s many forms, lurks around us all of the time. Sometimes we aren’t even aware of the dangers that surround us until we find ourselves smack in the middle of it! As we give in to the “itch”, we become more deeply entrenched in a pit of destruction and the consequences that follow: webs of lies, deceit and pain spread out from one “innocent” little decision to indulge in temptation. And as James points out, it will continue to snow-ball until we’re out of control. The remedy is so very simple but for some reason so many fail to use it. We tell ourselves that it’s impossible but we forget that Christ has given us His power if we only depend on it. He promises a way out every time (1 Cor. 10:13). When we put down our foot and simply refuse to give in anymore, we experience victory. We trade immediate gratification for eternal glory. For most, this takes serious discipline. We have to learn to deny ourselves and train our minds to choose obedience at all costs.The pitfalls are still there but now we begin to see them for what they are. As we begin to experience victory in those areas, the grip loosens. What once had the power to trip us up completely, becomes “part of the territory” that we can easily manuever around rather than those very things remaining something that has the power to control us. We humans tend to complicate things so much but He promises His yoke is easy and the burden is light. When you boil it down, victory over sin is simply a choice. Makes me think of the lyrics to Charlie Hall’s (one of the neatest, most humble guys I’ve EVER had the pleasure of meeting) song Marvelous Light…

“Sin has lost its power
Death has lost its sting
From the grave You’ve risen victoriously

Into marvelous light I’m running
Out of darkness, out of shame
By the cross, You are the Truth
You are the Life, You are the Way.”

Let’s make the decision to live in His marvelous light.



One thought on “Chigger Crazy

Share Your Thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s