By ROY W. HARRIS
Every year Memorial Day weekend officially kicks off one of the most looked forward to times of the year – SUMMER. Nature moves into high gear with greening lawns, leafing trees and exploding color of flowering mosaics that only the fingers of God could create. This year’s announcement of impending summer brought with it something else, the arrival of an unusual insect known as the Cicada. Cicadas are not new to those of us who’ve been around middle Tennessee for more than a dozen years but to others they are strange creatures that look like a cross between a dragonfly and a grasshopper who lost his back legs.
Only the good Lord knows the reason and purpose of the Cicadas. Their lives seem to be characterized by little purpose, enjoyment or fulfillment. They come from nowhere, stick around for a few weeks, eat, breed, crawl back into the ground and are not heard from for another thirteen years.
Why mention Cicadas? Maybe there are lessons we can learn from the Cicada. Let’s give it a shot – “Lessons from the Cicadas”.
Lesson #1. Life is short. The Cicada is on this earth for a short period of time. The scriptures tell us that most people are lucky if they live to be 70 and doubly so if they reach 80. The years quickly pass and like the Cicada, we fly away. According to 2011 U.S. statistics, life expectancy for the average American is 78.3 years. Isn’t it amazing that something written thousands of years ago is still accurate today. The scriptures also compare the length of life to a vapor or wisp of steam. We seem to suddenly appear on this earth, and just as quickly disappear and are gone. Our time on earth is short. We should make our lives count for worthwhile things which have eternal value.
Lesson #2. Life has purpose. For the life of me I cannot find a reason for the existence of the Cicada. Even though it may be hidden from us, God has purpose in everything He does, and He has a purpose and reason for the clockwork like 13-year arrival of the Cicada. The scriptures remind us that every human being is uniquely created by God and his or her clock-like arrival on this earth is an appointment with destiny prearranged by God Himself. Others may never know, and we may never fully understand what our purpose is, but we can rest in the assurance that God has a pre-designed plan for each of us.
Lesson #3. Life has choices. The Cicada male makes a sound which has been clocked at over 100 decibels. The united chorus of thousands of male Cicadas radiates like loud speakers from every tree and shrub in the neighborhood. The males sound off in an attempt to attract the attention of a potential mate. The female has an almost limitless choice of males to choose from. Who knows why she picks out that perfect one? Our lives are also filled with choices. Our choices are influenced by a myriad of voices radiating from a variety of people and circumstances. Doing the right thing is always the right thing to do. How do we make right choices? The Cicada has to rely on nature’s instinct. We have two wonderful gifts provided to help us. One is our conscience. God has placed a sense of right and wrong deep down inside each of us. The arrow our moral compass points us towards is magnetic right and 180 degrees away from moral wrong. Letting your conscience be your guide is pretty safe for most situations. God also offers wisdom from above. Solomon, considered to be one of the wisest men who ever lived, wrote a book found in the Bible called Proverbs. It provides a wealth of practical advice for our daily choices. A great way to gain wisdom for life is to read one chapter in Proverbs each day (Proverbs has 31 chapters). Reading one chapter per day will help one to gain insight into how to be healthy, wealthy and wise. Well, maybe wise anyway.
Lesson #4. Life has opportunities. The Cicadas live their short lives exhibiting a philosophy that seems far too prevalent in our world today. That philosophy is that it’s all about me. The Cicada lives his life grabbing for himself, never giving – only taking. There is no greater feeling in the world than giving. The recent flooding of those along the Mississippi River is a reminder of the great 1,000-year flood we experienced a little over a year ago in middle Tennessee. There was little self-pity or looking towards Washington for help. There was an immediate onslaught of volunteers who mobilized wanting to help those who’d been devastated by floodwaters. The spirit of giving and expecting nothing in return became the order of the day. That biblical principle that ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive’ still rings true today. We each have opportunities to give time, talent and treasure to our families, friends, church, community and nation. Another expression we’ve heard is ‘give till it hurts’. I believe a greater principle is the promise in scripture; ‘give and it will be given unto you’. Giving generates a lasting feeling of satisfaction that only taking can never produce.
The Cicadas have come and gone one more time. Maybe one of God’s purposes for sending them was to teach us another lesson or two about life. Whatever their purpose – it will be another thirteen years before we hear from them again. I must say – I’m not disappointed that they are gone.