Bee stings and advice from Peter

Last week, I was barbequing for the Fourth of July when a big red wasp began to dive bomb me.  I was able to duck just in time while slapping at him with my spatula.  He circled around only to make another run at me.  Duck … swish again.  With more determination, he came at me again, while I ducked and whirled and waved my cooking tool.

About then, I heard a cackle of laughter coming from our back door.  It seems my wife had witnessed my gyrations.  She never misses a chance to laugh at me.  And I give her that change on a regular basis, it seems.

Now, you have to understand, I am lethally allergic to wasps. I have known that since I was in my late twenties.

I remember that it was moving day.  I had just delivered a box into our new house and walked back out the front door for another load, when, wham! a wasp slammed into the back of my neck.  It felt like someone had knocked me in the back of head with a hot poker.

I went on with our move.  However, after a while I began to itch miserably and noticed large red welts developing over my skin.  In a little while, my eyes were watering, my nose was running, my neck was swelling, and I began to have difficulty breathing. 

I was rushed to the emergency room where the doctor gave me a big shot of adrenaline and diphenhydramine hydrochloride.  He then warned me that I needed to be careful to avoid being stung because I could go into anaphylactic shock and die.  A sobering thought.

A few years later, I went hunting on opening day of dove season.  I was the pastor of a church in southern Oklahoma, and a member of our church had invited me to hunt with him on his land.  It was quite a ways out into the country in a rather remote and isolated area.

When we got to the property, we separated, and I went over to survey a cattle pond.  Standing on the damn of the pond, I observed a good dove flyway between two rows of trees.  So, I slipped down the bank and made my way under the limbs of a tree in order to take up a stance to shoot from.

I had been standing there a few minutes when I looked to my left, and right there near my head was the largest wasp nest that I could ever have imagined.  It was the size of a basketball and  covered with wasps.  There must have been hundreds of them.  And then I noticed that the muzzle of my shotgun was only couple of inches from it. 

I froze.  Then, slowly, carefully, I began to inch away.  When I was a safe distance, I turned and ran like the dickens.

When I found my friend and told him what had happened, he said, “I would would have shot it.” 

My response was, “Yeah, right!  I could see that happening, and you would have seen me running while being chased by a big pack of those things.”  Perhaps I could have made it back to the pond and jumped in, but maybe not either.

Things could have turned out really badly.  Had I been stung by those wasps, I would have died before anyone could have gotten me to a hospital.

After that, I began to carry a wasp sting kit with me when I go hunting or fishing.  It has a syringe of adrenaline and several doses of Benadryl.  As the Boy Scouts say, “Be prepared.”

We face dangers everyday.  Not only physical dangers, which can be often so unpredictable, but also spiritual dangers. 

We never know when we will face the potential for the stings of temptation or fear or deception … or any number of difficulties in our daily living.  We need to be prepared.

The Apostle Peter gave us some good advice about that.  He said, “Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.  As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: 'Be holy, because I am holy.'”  (1 Peter 1: 13-16 NIV)

Just as I prepared myself to be ready for the wasps, so we also need to prepare ourselves against evil desires.  Otherwise, we are likely to get stung.

 (The Rev. Al Henager is pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Heber Springs, Arkansas.  He can be contacted at