Of course my daughter ventured her little hand towards the yellow and black fuzzy insect. With one finger she gently tried to pet it. Of course the bee was not happy being interrupted from its nectar gathering mission and gave her a fiery response. Disbelief at her friendship offer being rebuffed, she came running to me with tears and a swollen finger.
Most children have a fascination with bugs. Years ago my neighbor’s son would daily entertain me with his latest creepy crawly cupped in his chubby toddler hands.
And then there was my sister. As a young girl she was terrified of bugs… especially anything that flew. If there was a harmless moth fluttering in her bedroom at night, she would emit a blood-curdling scream that would bring my mother running. Ironically she ended up volunteering as a missionary for several years in Hong Kong and had giant flying cockroaches to deal with in her apartment. My mom, when she visited her, got a kick out of watching her in action with flyswatters and sprays, remembering how frightened she had been as a child.
Bugs can be very beneficial. Their role in the pollination of crops is essential. Besides being on the menu for many birds and animals, certain bugs can also be a natural pest control. I released a carton of ladybugs in my rose garden one year to feast on aphids. I learned from an entomologist that the Admiral wasp is the natural enemy of cockroaches. However, he told me that scientists quickly discovered its limited appeal as a deterrent since most homeowners and building supervisors aren’t keen on keeping wasp nests close by.
I’m not a connoisseur of insects as a source of protein, but many cultures treat them as food. John the Baptist had a limited diet of locusts and wild honey (Mat. 3:4). These days chocolate seems to make crunchy creatures palatable for many venturesome nibblers.
Some insects can be both beneficial and a bother. In the Midwest region of the United States there is a season in the late spring-early summer for Mayflies. The heaviest mass of these harmless winged creatures usually lasts only a few weeks. They breed in lakes and are indicators of clean water and a healthy ecosystem. Fish and birds devour these tasty tidbits. On the other hand, live and dead Mayflies cling to screens and the sides of buildings, and their slimy dead bodies cover roads. A beneficial nuisance for sure!
We are most concerned, however, with the bugs that threaten us. Swarms of gnats and flies are more than just annoying. If they bite, it stings and hurts, and big welts erupt. Growing up on a farm, my mother told me she watched flies “worrying” the cattle until they would run madly around the pasture.
There are many stories of crop damage from insects… grasshoppers marching across the prairie, devouring everything in their path. God sent plagues of gnats and flies to Egypt to confront the pharaoh, but the stubborn ruler wouldn’t give in. Then came locusts that covered the ground, stripping the trees and fields bare and filling the houses of the Egyptians (Ex. 8 and 10).
Scientists today continue to battle against bugs that are harmful. While crops are a concern, most worrisome are the bugs that are a human health threat.
I know I was vigilant to check my family for ticks when we lived in the South. Back then the worry was Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Today the more common worry is Lyme disease.
Mosquitoes are the dreaded carriers of extremely dangerous diseases such as Malaria and the Zika virus. Lakes and standing water, perfect breeding grounds for these deadly bugs, need to be treated or drained. Sleeping nets provide a safety barrier. Yet research on controlling the mosquito population genetically seems to carry the most hope in defeating these bugs.
There are other things we call bugs that affect our lives: “flu bugs” that are really viruses; computer bugs that can grow into a fully infected system; bugs planted in cars and rooms for surveillance.
Or we can tell someone “Don’t bug me!” This kind of “bugging” can wear down a person. I know my mom “bugged” my then-boyfriend-now-husband mercilessly until he installed seatbelts in his Volkswagen “Beetle” to keep her daughter safer.
We can also “put a bug in someone’s ear”… an ongoing reminder that is difficult if not impossible for that person to ignore.
People who are obsessively interested about doing something are said to have been bit by a bug, perhaps the acting or sailing or travel bug or any other passion. Their enthusiasm can even be infectious!
Certain thoughts can bug me. Satan annoys me with ideas or attitudes that I don’t want to think about. If I just swat them away, they’re sure to return and even bring their friends… suggestions of even worse things.
That’s when I need to get bit by a different bug… the one that drives me to prayer and worship and study of the Scriptures. That’s when I want my Lord Jesus to keep bugging me until I pay attention to Him… listening to Him as I’m praying, not just producing my own stream of a one-way conversation.
When I am in a swarm of His thoughts I know I don’t have to worry about the life-threatening, soul-destroying viruses of sin. I know my best defense is to stay away from the breeding ground of Satan’s lies.
Instead I need to search for a spiritually healthy ecosystem surrounded by my brothers and sisters in Christ.
And who knows? I may even enjoy being bit by the joyful witnessing bug!