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The Unexpected Savior: Lessons from Robert the Bruce and the Spider’s Web

Updated: Jan 16

Robert the Bruce, a young soldier, found himself in a terrible battle during the Scottish Reformation around 1300. The enemy was soundly defeating this young man's army. He and his comrades found themselves hastily retreating from the battlefield in defeat, running away in fear for their lives. The enemy gave chase. This young man ran hard and fast, full of fear and desperation, and soon found himself cut off from his comrades in arms.

He eventually came upon a rocky ledge containing a cave. Knowing the enemy was close behind and exhausted from the chase, he hid there. After he crawled in, he fell to his face in the darkness, desperately crying to God to save him and protect him from his enemies.

When he looked up from his despairing plea for help, he saw a spider beginning to weave its web at the entrance to the cave. As he watched the delicate threads slowly drawn across the mouth of the cave, the young soldier pondered its irony. He thought, "I asked God for protection and deliverance, and he sent me a spider instead. How can a spider save me?

His heart was hardened, knowing the enemy would soon discover his hiding place and kill him. Soon, he did hear the sound of his enemies, who were now scouring the area looking for those in hiding. One soldier with a gun slowly walked up to the cave's entrance. As the young man crouched in the darkness, hoping to surprise the enemy in a last-minute desperate attempt to save his own life, he felt his heart pounding wildly out of control.

As the enemy cautiously moved forward to enter the cave, he came upon the spider's web, which was completely strung across the opening by now. He backed away and called out to a comrade, "There can't be anyone in here. They would have had to break this spider's web to enter the cave. Let's move on."

How often do we hope and pray for something, never seeing it materialize? But did you ever stop and wonder that, maybe, just maybe, it did occur just in a form that we did not expect? Yet, we missed it because we had specific criteria for what that might look like. The Dalai Lama XIV once said, "Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck."

Sure, that was over 700 years ago. But as I know, and you indeed do, humankind has not changed. Our minds, bodies, and spirits are almost identical to what they were during this soldier's time, as they were 2000 years ago and even 5000 years ago. There are often ample opportunities to ditch any faith in a higher authority. Many questions and prayers have seemed to go unanswered. But what if some of those answers were disguised in forms that were not recognized because we were so closed by heartbreak or fear? Maybe the protection of a flimsy spider's web is all we need. Perhaps all we need to see is the light shining through it to illuminate our apparent darkness.

From here on, I will pay attention to the spider webs and be grateful for them. I will look for the small blessings, acknowledge them, and allow them to strengthen my faith. Perhaps you can do the same.

© Dr. Charles Glassman, CoachMD

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