Cicadas! Let me be clear on this issue: I am not a fan of bugs. They may be interesting, but I would prefer bugs to keep their distance. I experienced Brood X the last time they surfaced. Bugs hanging on the screen door, flying in my face, their shells scattered on the sidewalk crunching under my feet. I know that cicadas are harmless, but – Ugh! When I heard the news of their reemergence, I began googling questions: Will they bother my flowers? What if my cat eats one (or two or three)? How long will they be here?
I found out a lot about cicadas, and I must admit that the cicada story is fascinating. These big-eyed bugs spend seventeen years under ground, growing, developing. When the time is ripe, they crawl up and out, fly around, sing, mate, sing, mate, sing, mate and then die after five or six weeks. That’s it. Seventeen years in the dark, in the dirt, only to live in the warmth of the sun no more than six weeks. No wonder cicadas are so noisy and busy. Life is short. No time to waste. These bugs have only a few short weeks to fulfill their purpose (making the next generation) before they’re gone.
Of course, you and I have a much greater purpose in life; but our time on earth is relatively short, too. In fact, none of us really knows how short or long our life will be. “What is your life?” asks the Apostle James, “You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” (James 4:14) Perhaps we should adopt a sense of urgency similar to cicadas. Life is short. Time’s a-wasting. How often do we put off serving, helping, supporting, thinking, “I’ll pitch in next time”? How often do we side step compassion – “I’m not ready to forgive.” “I’ll call another day.” “I’ll send a card later.” – and later never seems to come? We really have only a short while to love, give, serve, and share as Jesus asked. There is no time like the present to fulfill our calling as God’s people.
Yet Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42) will tell you that there are two sides to this coin. Cicadas spend years deep down in the soil growing, developing, maturing. They spend much of their time above ground simply singing in the trees. We can be so busy serving God that we neglect listening, learning, and growing in Christ. We can spend so much of our day doing that there is no time left for resting, singing, and praising God. Am I too busy? Do I need to get busy? Either way, we need to consider the brevity of the gift of life. How do we reach a godly balance?
Unlike cicadas, humankind has a greater, more selfless, godly purpose. We are placed on this earth to live in the ways of God, to do the will of God, in order that we might glorify God. We only get one shot at doing this. We have only one life to live. I am grateful to God that we never do any of it – work, serve, sing, rest, learn – alone. “Teach us, Lord, to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12) May it be so.
In Christ, Pastor Bobbie