Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Bite

It all began very innocently.

We had recently moved into our house and I was laying sod in a portion of our backyard.  I picked up yet another square of St. Augustine grass, wiggled it into place and "Ouch!" I had been bitten on the back of the hand.

Living in the Deep South, I have had more than my share of fire ant bites, so I wasn't too concerned, I just went back to my sod.  Within a few minutes, however, the ant bite once again began to command my attention.  My hand was unusually uncomfortable in my glove and removing it, I was startled to see it swollen remarkably in only a few minutes.  

My hand ended up swelling up a couple inches.  It took more than one dose of Benadryl to stop the swelling, and it was a couple days before my hand returned to normal.  Once healed,  I did't give it another thought.  I should have.

A few months later, we went to the beach on vacation. Once we arrived, our children were anxious to be in the pool, so we unloaded our suitcases and took them for a swim.  We had noticed the carcasses of bugs floating in the water, but we  weren't aware they were fire ants -- I didn't know any ant but the queen had wings. (Apparently, during the spring and summer, winged fire ants go on mating swarms.  Shortly after mating, the male dies and the female becomes the new queen flying from 100 feet to 10 miles to start a new colony.)

We entered the pool, trying to avoid the "bugs". Then, "Ouch!"  I felt a burning bite to my hip.  Obviously not all the carcasses were of dead ants.

Within a minute or two I was on fire.  My scalp was burning, my hip was burning and I had this weird uneasy feeling.  Thinking perhaps I had gotten some chemicals on my hands, I went to the hotel room to wash off.  Before I could make it to the room, I started itching all over.  Not a friendly, mild itching, but a serious, frantic type itching.  I took a bath and thankfully had the presence of mild to take some Benadryl.  I believe that was the last of the "presence of mind".

By the time I stepped out of the tub, my hip was swollen to the point the place of the bite could not be seen.  Not only that, but a lovely red map had begun to break out all over my body.  I couldn't scratch hard or fast enough.  I felt awful and I felt sick.  I took another dose of Benadryl even though I had already begun to feel nauseated.  I felt feverish and the thermometer showed my temperature was climbing.  In spite of my sister-in-law's urging, I insisted I was "fine" and didn't need emergency care. I certainly knew the Lord's protection that day.   The only symptom I didn't have was trouble breathing.

  Once back home I relayed my story to a doctor at work who promptly wrote out a prescription for an Epinephrine-pen and urged me to make an appointment with the allergist now.  The allergist I then saw told me my blood level was eight times what it needed to be for me to be allergic to fire ants.  I'll never forget his next sentence.

"If you get bit again, you may die."

Two years of allergy shots, and I don't have to be scared of where I step anymore, only careful, and the Epi-pen is never far away.  I have actually been bitten since then with not even a swollen spot to show for it.

My point is, I would not have known the big reaction without the bite on the hand first, what is known as "sensitization".  That first bite on the hand -- and all the myriads of little bites before that -- is what ultimately what made it possible, when everything in my body and my environment where perfectly aligned for my allergy to form, to lead to the big reaction.

None of us comes to Christ without first having some form of "sensitization".  Perhaps someone shares the Gospel with us, or we hear or read the Scriptures.  Maybe it is that Mother or Grandmother, Father or Grandfather who has prayed for us day by day by day, but somewhere along the line, we have had our first contact with Christ.  This makes us ready, susceptible to that moment when every circumstance of our lives is perfect for us to make the decision to come to know Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

Let us remember, that while sometimes we may be part of the "big bite", most often we are the little bite.  Sometimes we are the one praying, or sharing a Scripture or giving a kind word or helping hand.  All things things work together to prepare that one for their "big reaction" to the Lord Jesus.

 "For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry," 
1 Corinthians 3:9

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