Last updated on October 29, 2023
But I am a worm, and no man;
A reproach of men, and despised by the people.
Recently some friends and I were discussing when we feel closest to God, I sheepishly responded I feel closest to God when I am writing or scuba diving. I feared that didn’t make me sound very spiritual—until someone remarked that’s probably when I feel most needy.
I have scuba-dived all over the world, including the Red Sea, the Great Barrier Reef, and the Caribbean. Thirty minutes from my home in sunny Central Florida, dozens of cold, clear springs bubble up and lure divers from around the country to scuba dive in the caves.
On many of these dives, particularly in the Red Sea, away from the noise and distractions of a busy life, I have been overcome with the immense beauty and vastness of the world beneath the ocean.
On one night dive in the Florida Keys many years ago, my dive buddy and I were at about seventy-five feet, which is rather deep for a night dive. We were diving off a shipwreck, and when I shone my underwater light on the rustic red side of a sunken boat, I discovered a brown caterpillar-like creature with tons of legs. He was edging his way along at a rather slow pace. I probably stunned him with the intrusion of my bright light in what was otherwise total blackness.
As I floated beside the ship and examined the peculiar worm, I wondered why I would be so captivated by this rather ugly creature in the middle of the vast Atlanta Ocean.
I recently had a similar experience with a worm that I discovered in Megiddo, Israel. I stopped to snap a picture, much to the chagrin of my pastor, who later chided me for holding up the bus. Who but someone like me would want a photo of a worm at Megiddo?
Worms are also mentioned in the Bible. One story is about a worm in the book of Jonah, God sent Jonah to warn the people of the city of Nineveh to repent of their ways. After being eaten by the whale, Jonah traveled to the wicked city and did as God asked him. But when God didn’t destroy the city and spared the inhabitants, Jonah brooded over God’s mercy to Israel’s enemies. Then God supplied a plant to give Jonah some shade as he sat angrily in the hot noonday sun. The next day, however, God provided a worm to eat the plant.
Sometimes life seems like that. God giveth. God taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
The Bible references another kind of worm called Wormwood. “Then the third angel sounded: And a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the water, because it was made bitter” (Revelation 8:10-11).
Perhaps the most important reference to a worm in the Bible was uttered by Jesus. “But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised by the people” (Psalm 22:6).
“A disciple is not above his teacher (Matthew 10:24). There have been times when I have felt as meaningless as a worm, and bitterness wanted to eat my testimony, like a worm consuming the flesh of the plant. I’m thankful that God understands bitterness. But for the grace of God go I.
As my kids get older, I look forward to once again putting on the weight belt, BC, tank, and octopus. I always enjoyed spitting into my face mask to clean it (after all, how many times in life is that acceptable behavior), and, of course, getting that last strand of hair out of the mask so as not to burn my eyes with seeping saltwater.
I can’t wait to push that regulator button and hear the compressed air spew out (pretty important down there to be able to breathe), and I will waddle like a duck in all my gear to the back of the boat and wait my turn (imagining I look better than I feel with the cumbersome tank on my back).
I will make sure I remember all those hand signals (the out-of-air one might come in handy) and, hopefully, heave off the back of the boat in a spectacular somersault. The rising bubbles as I sink and the sound of the regulator imitating my breathing will bring me back to my favorite pastime. I will be wooed once more to enjoy God’s presence in a fabulous world of unparalleled beauty. And for a brief moment, nothing else will matter. Even worms.
PRAYER: Dear Heavenly Father, I am thankful that even though I might be at times as lowly as a worm, You still died for me. Someday soon, we will meet in the clouds, and I will be with You forever in Your Father’s Kingdom.