"A Spider and Conversion"
“In Shanghai, they came for the university professors and businessmen first. Red Guards, some as young as 15, paraded tribunals. There, an act of "self-criticism" was demanded--confession to imaginary crimes against Mao Zedong. Most such criminals were sent to be "reeducated" in labor camps. Others were beaten or executed. The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution had begun.
Mao's goal was to erase 6,000 years of Chinese law, manners, art, and history in one nationwide orgy of destruction and murder. With a society thus freed from tradition, he believed he could mold a new type of man--a socialist man. Anyone who preserved the old ways, anyone with Western contacts, anyone with money, land, or education--all were "class enemies." Violent mobs of students, soldiers, and party officials roamed the streets, attacking anyone with Western clothes or hairstyles, looting the homes of the wealthy. Death sentences were handed out like parking tickets.
Nien Cheng could see the circle of accusations tightening around her. A wealthy native of Shanghai, schooled in London and conversant in the art and music of East and West, she had worked for nine years at Shell Oil as a management adviser. Her neighbor, an engineer at a Swiss-owned aluminum company, was convicted as a "running dog of Swiss imperialism." His two young children joined in his denunciation, publicly severing their relationship with their father. Nien Cheng was the communists' next obvious target.
She prepared for her inevitable arrest like a woman planning a dinner party. Family heirlooms were packed away. Loyal servants were provided for. As raids on her home became more and more frequent, the teen-aged Red Guards destroyed priceless porcelain and paintings. They viciously beat Nien Cheng and wrecked her home in search of nonexistent hoards of counterrevolutionary guns and gold.
Finally, on September 27, 1966, Nien Cheng was brought before a tribunal as an imperialist spy. As her accusers read a long list of false charges, others shouted angrily, "Confess! Confess!" Red Guards pulled at her clothes and spat on her jacket. "Dirty spy! We will kill you!"
"I have never done anything against the People's Government," Nien Cheng replied calmly.
She was taken to prison and locked into a small, damp cell. The single light bulb burned 24 hours a day. The bed and walls were caked with dirt.
Weeks passed. Nien Cheng dreamed of freedom and read the works of Mao, looking for passages to use against her accusers. And then, one day, encouragement came from an unlikely source.
As Nien Cheng gazed out the tiny window, a pea-sized spider crawled through the rusty bars and climbed toward the ceiling. Suddenly the spider swung out on a silken thread, attached the strand to the base of the bar, and spun another, then another. It worked with purpose and confidence, weaving a web of intricate beauty.
"I had just watched an architectural feat by an extremely skilled artist," Nien Cheng writes of her tiny cell mate. "My mind was full of questions. Who had taught the spider to make a web? Could it have really acquired the skill through evolution, or did God create the spider and endow it with the ability to make a web so that it could catch food and perpetuate its species? ...I knew I had just witnessed something that was extraordinarily beautiful and uplifting. Whether God had made the spider or not, I thanked Him for what I had just seen. It helped me to see that God was in control. Mao Zedong and his revolutionaries seemed much less menacing. I felt a renewal of hope and confidence."
That hope sustained Nien Cheng through six-and-a-half years in prison; she was released without ever making the false confession her jailers demanded. Like Armando Valladares and Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Nien Cheng provides one of those extraordinary testimonies to the human spirit that comes from prisons around the world. All the barbarism of the Cultural Revolution was set against the will of this delicate but determined woman. And she would not be changed.
But this is a story not just about the human spirit; it is a story about God and His sovereign power. God is never without His witness. He will reveal Himself, in spite of persecution, evil, or complacency. Even without our plans and programs, He reaches into the darkest prisons in the darkest times to demonstrate His glory. As Nien Cheng discovered, the God of the universe is not just a God of crusades and campaigns, but of stones and spiders.”
A spider, a dragonfly, or animals in a zoo may change someone’s life. Why? These are living beings created by God Himself. There is always a part of the Creator in everything He creates. A spider, a dragonfly, and all animals reveal something about God. If nothing else, all living beings, at the very minimum, point directly to the truth of the existence of a Divine Creator.
Experience the glory of God by diligently seeking God’s face. See God’s splendor in other people. Allow God’s beauty to be instilled inside of you, and then emanate that beauty outward toward others in all you do and say. Experience the splendor of God on a daily basis from the other living beings who cohabitate with us on wonderful planet earth. Each living creature was personally named by us, that is, Adam as a representative of humankind.
Remember, we must seek in order to find. There are those who have learned to see or experience God in His living creatures.