Psalm 136, vs. 3 and 7
Do you know that there are almost 2000 species of fireflies in the world? I discovered this fact after I noticed that the fireflies in my backyard look different from the ones I saw as a child. I also wondered why there seem to be fewer fireflies each year. The answer, I learned, is that building projects and other commercial endeavors are displacing the fireflies’ habitat —meadows and fields. Fireflies like to stay close to where they were born, and if their habitat is destroyed, then they are reluctant to move on. Light pollution is a factor, too. These little creatures communicate by flashing their lights, sort of like a bug Morse code. The nearby lights of cities and towns can confuse the fireflies’ signals resulting in less mating, which of course, means fewer fireflies.
I’ve read that in some places fireflies were so plentiful that for evening entertainment people would drive their cars to a field or meadow to watch the show. Since the flash pattern is different for each species, the landscape would twinkle with lights like Christmas in July. I can only imagine, since I am thrilled to see even a dozen fireflies flitting about.
When I was little, I caught fireflies in a jar and found such joy in watching them light. I was careful not to keep them too long, and then I released them back to the warm, summer night. There was something so magical about them. They were a prelude to the stars, and if you waited long enough, until it was completely dark outside, it was almost as if the stars were floating down from Heaven to Earth. Robert Frost used the analogy in his poem “Fireflies in the Garden.”
Here come real stars to fill the upper skies,
And here on earth come emulating flies,
That though they never equal stars in size,
(And they were never really stars at heart)
Achieve at times a very star-like start.
Only, of course, they can’t sustain the part.
Isn’t it amazing how God uses light to catch our attention? James 1:17 describes God as “the Father of the heavenly lights.” Think about it. A beautiful sunrise or sunset rarely goes unnoticed. A full moon inspires lovers, musicians, and writers. Stars spilling across the sky wow us. We watch the Northern Lights with awe, and a lightning bolt striking nearby surely makes us sit up and take notice. God, the Father of the heavenly lights, is calling out to us, reminding us of his power and glory. It is no accident that the word “light” is mentioned 237 times in the King James Version of the Bible.
Jesus said, in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” In Matthew 5, Jesus speaks to ordinary citizens, just like you and me, and he says: “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (vs.14-16)
As I watch fireflies gliding through my backyard flashing their yellow-green signals, I imagine that it is God’s way of getting my attention, reminding me that I am a light in His world. I’m often guilty of not letting my light shine long enough. It flashes on and off like the light of a firefly. It shines for several hours and some might take notice, but I know that God, the Father of Heavenly lights, wants my light to shine brightly all day, every day, always, so that everyone sees. I have to work on that.
How brightly does your light shine? Are you like a firefly, or does your light shine brightly all day long?
Kind Heavenly Father, You sent your son, Jesus, to be the Light of the World. He gave us the mission of spreading the Light to all people. Help me, Lord, so my light will shine brightly all day long and those in darkness will notice and see You.
Art credit, fireflies and globe ©2008 Evgeniy Alybin
If you would like to read more about our disappearing fireflies, check out Firefly.org.