I feel for the humble insect. So maligned in many ways.
Firstly, there’s the way we treat them. Mosquitoes and flies the world over are swatted or sprayed. Caterpillars are squished. Snails (not insects, I know!) are drowned in beer concoctions. Ants are dealt with by foot. Pest control is big business!
Then, we use these insects to malign someone’s character. You might be called a grub or a parasite. (Well, it may not be an insect, either, but you get my point.) You may know someone who ‘bugs’ you. And what about the postie who is judged as we complain of ‘snail-mail’?
Then there’s the humble, but extremely valuable worm. Even the Bible uses them as unpleasant metaphors. King David described himself as a ‘worm’. Jacob was called a ‘worm’ – by the Lord! Ouch. God also called the Israeli enemies ‘flies’ and ‘bees’.
And what about grasshoppers! I’m sure you know the story: Twelve ‘spies’ are called by Moses to investigate the land they had been promised by God. On returning, ten of the twelve explorers called themselves ‘grasshoppers’, compared to the giants of the Promised Land. Fear and cowardice at its best. Sadly. What did the grasshopper do to deserve that?
“We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are… the land we explored devours those living in it… We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”Numbers 13:31-33
Now, have you heard of these ten men? – Shammua, Shaphat, Igal, Palti, Gaddiel, Gaddi, Ammiel, Sethur, Nahbi, or Geuel? No? Their names are not on the Top Baby Names’ list!
But Joshua and Caleb? Now, they are names you hear often. They were the two who believed what God had told them about the land – a land flowing with milk and honey, huge clusters of grapes, pomegranates and figs. They trusted God’s word to them and to all of Israel, to give help and victory as they fought their enemies. They weren’t calling themselves grasshoppers, even with enemies staring them down.
“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”John 16:33
Trouble. Enemies. Giants. In our fallen world there will be battles.
For Israel there was land to be taken, enemies to defeat, ’squatters’ to be removed that were living in the towns and cities that God had dedicated, set apart, for His chosen people.
When we look at our enemies, our battles, our troubles – fear, lack, health issues, relationship breakdowns, anxiety, abuse, bureaucracy – we often see them as too big or too strong, and so we end up looking at ourselves as unable and weak, ‘grasshoppers’ to be devoured. This thinking not only defeats our hearts and lives, but also maligns God’s word, His promises, His character and ability.
“For nothing is impossible with God.”
Luke 1:37 (NLT)
We must be like Joshua and Caleb and have faithful hearts that look to God’s word, His promises, as faithful; to get our courage from Him, instead of allowing our hearts to fail through the circumstances that surround us.
Now, insects can be very destructive, from plagues destroying harvests, to my rose buds being eaten, which is why they’ve been used to describe negative characters! Yet they are vital as the pollinators for our harvests and gardens, as well as the myriad of other jobs they perform for our environment. They’re even edible! (I’m still not convinced!) God has used these humble creatures throughout the Bible to teach us many special things. So He often asks us to ‘consider’, ‘look at’, ‘go to’ – the ant, the lilies, the raven.
“Look at the birds of the air…see how the flowers of the field grow”Matthew 6:26, 28
We have much to learn.
I recently learned that flies are the primary pollinators of cacao. That changed my attitude toward the annoying fly! I love chocolate. Of course, a fly in my home is still subject to the swat, but I do have a new-found appreciation, nevertheless! Oh, and as for the bee, how sad would it be to not have honey in our world?
Random Groovy Bible Facts – Home taught me some amazing things. One worm, coccus ilicis, or Kermes vermilio, is an insect which, in the female, loses its legs and so is called a worm. It is found on the Kermes Oak, a common shrub in Israel. This ‘worm’, which looks more like a beetle, clings to the tree when it is going to lay its eggs. It clings so tightly that it dies, protecting the larvae. During this time, it produces, or melts into, a crimson gel, which people used to create beautiful dyes for clothing and other articles, like the High Priest’s garments. This gel was only available for three days on the tree for the artisan. What an amazing analogy of Jesus who clung to the cross so we might have life, who shed His blood for our salvation. Then on the fourth day of death the insect forms into a heart shape and becomes waxy and white.
“Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow, though they are red as crimson, they shall be as wool.”Isaiah 1:18
And in the Psalms, David writes in his distress,
“My heart is like wax; it is melted inside my body.”Psalm 22:14
Such rich imagery. I love how God’s creation teaches us His story, His salvation. Incredible!
Finally, the butterfly. We’ve all learned in school about metamorphosis – a complete transformation – and heard the analogy of our lives becoming new in Christ. How true that is! As we become who God calls us to be, our wings open, like the new butterfly. Instead of crawling, we learn to fly. Sometimes we look like the new butterfly, hanging upside down, flapping its wet wings to dry, while the blood flows through them. Our lives aren’t always perfect, without issues, but we find our life, help, strength in the One who created us. And soon, we take flight and travel from flower to flower, finding nourishment for ourselves while pollinating those around us. Such an amazing picture of how God, our amazing Father, wants to not only provide for us, but use us in bringing life to all around us.
At the beginning of this year, I sensed this picture of transformation, of a butterfly’s wings unfurling, ready for flight. Jesus reminded me to be brave, like the song I sang throughout 2016 when I had cancer the first time. He told me that in this year of a new way of living, I could fly, not crawl. I could be brave and live my best life for God, in this season, whatever it brings. I can live the life of a new creation, made new in Christ, ready to live the transformed life I have been given. How about you?!
“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that He has considered me trustworthy, appointing me to His service.”1 Timothy 1:12
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here.”1 Corinthians 5:17
- Consider! Take time to learn from nature’s lessons and enjoy the beauty and wonder of God’s handiwork.
- Listen to a song that makes you brave!
- Choose some Scriptures from your studying to believe in, to hold onto, to trust in for your present circumstances. Don’t give up!