Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Lessons from the Cicada

This morning started out with a groan.

I stayed up way too late last night reading a book.  So when the alarm clock went off at 6 a.m., I turned it off and groaned. 

Before the groan had fully escaped my mouth, I was convicted.  As much of a complainer as I tend to be, it's pretty remarkable that I was convicted so quickly.  But I knew I had no reason to groan.  It was morning.  It was a new day full of new mercies.  And I was alive.

And I got up and got dressed, resolving to try to refrain from complaining and groaning (which probably only lasted about fifteen minutes, but it's a start).  I was getting my snacks ready for the day when I realized the trash needed to be taken out.  Since my roommate has been out of town for over a week, I've realized that the trash can doesn't magically empty itself.  Someone has to take it.  And since I'm the only one currently staying at my apartment, that someone had to be me. 

So I took out the trash and was greeted by a few pleasant things.  First, my senses were embraced by a refreshing coolness.  Since I'm too cheap to use the air conditioner, it was probably about 15 degrees hotter in my apartment than it was in the morning outdoor air.  The sudden and unexpected coolness felt alive; it seemed to indicate that this summer season and its oppressive heat aren't going to last forever--change is coming soon. 

The second pleasantry was the noises of creation.  There were birds singing, as they do pretty much year round (why some of those crazy birds don't migrate in the winter is a mystery to me.  If I had wings, I'd SO be migrating to warmer places come winter).  There were also the songs of the cicadas--which I thought were supposed to sing when it's hot and not when it's cool, but I guess they just like making noise whenever.

I had a conversation with some friends the other night about cicadas.  We came to the conclusion that it would pretty much suck to be a cicada--at least the kind of cicada that hides underground for 17 years.  Not all of them do.  Some of them are only underground a couple of years.  Some are underground 13 years.  Others are underground 17.  Thank you, Wikipedia.

So imagine being a cicada who lives underground for 17 years.  You haven't seen the sun since you were a little bitty newly hatched baby buggy.  You live in the dirt.  That's gotta be pretty boring--those earthworms are pretty dull neighbors from what I hear.  Finally, after 17 long years of waiting in darkness, you reach adulthood and emerge out into the sunlit surface, where you molt off your old cicada shell, ready to embrace your brand new life.  You sing out your lovely cicada song, happy to be alive and free in a brave new world!

Then you get eaten by a bird.

Yeah.  It would suck to be a cicada.

But the thing is, the cicadas still sing.  I think this must be one of those end of the 17 year cycle years, because they seem to be so much louder than usual this year.  And it makes me happy to hear them sing.  It makes me happy because they're singing as they were designed to sing.  I know that boy cicadas sing to attract girl cicadas, but the bottom line is, God made them to do that.  So when they sing, they're doing what they were made to do, and therefore, they are glorifying God.

The thing is, a cicada doesn't have any say in the matter.  It glorifies God just by being what it is.  But I'm a human being.  I've got the power to choose whether I'm going to sing or groan, whether I'm going to glorify God or not.  And I haven't lived underground for 17 years, waiting to come to the surface.  It's highly unlikely that I'll wake up tomorrow morning and get eaten by a bird.  In fact, no matter what happens to me, as long as I'm alive, I know I'm going to get up tomorrow and be greeted by tons of grace that I don't deserve.

So my prayer is that I wake up tomorrow and start the day with a song.

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