by Mark A. Taylor
The cicadas are coming. The cicadas are coming! Specifically, they’re coming to your neighborhood if you live somewhere represented by one of the blue dots on the map below.
We’re sharing it courtesy of Cincinnati cicada expert Dr.Gene Kritsky, professor at Mt. Saint Joseph University. His website gives a thorough explanation for Brood X, the current swarm of cicadas set to emerge soon throughout large portions of the eastern U.S.
The good doctor assures his readers the cicadas do no harm. They don’t eat vegetation (although they do lay their eggs in tiny slits in tree bark; owners of young trees beware). They don’t bite. They last only six or eight weeks before they reproduce and die.
But his fondness for the ugly insects ignores the fact that they buzz. Let’s put that in all caps: THEY BUZZ! And, at the height of their season, they’re EVERYWHERE outside. No sitting in the shade while you read a good book in the early summer. You won’t be able to ignore their drone like a thousand electric razors echoing all around you. And you won’t be able to relax for swatting the locust-like creatures off your head and arms and legs—and out of the iced tea glass waiting on your patio table.
Protection Is possible
I read somewhere they’re attracted to the sound of small engines, like the one running your lawn mower. The folks at Under the Weather already knew that, which is why they invented the WalkingPod Mesh with Bug Screen, available to you today in Safety Yellow (pictured) or Dark Gray, for only $89.99. “Run errands, commute or work outside—wherever you go, it’ll be a breeze,” they promise.
I’m not commuting these days, and I hire a guy to mow the lawn. (Maybe I should share the Under the Weather website with him.) I can run errands safely inside my air-conditioned SUV, but it’s that “work outside” option that’s concerning me. The cicadas are set to emerge when the soil temp gets to 64 degrees, right around May 14 here, which is also the perfect time for spring yard spruce-ups. Will I want to swat my way through soil prep and planting just so I can decorate my landscape with begonias and petunias? Will I be willing to brave the swarming cicadas just to have a few homegrown tomatoes?
Their Presence Is a Reminder
Check back with me on that, but in any case, I’m going to let the cicadas remind me of a larger truth. Just as we soon won’t be able to get away from the creatures, we can never get away from the devil. (We might think cicadas prove the devil’s presence among us, although I think Dr. Kritsky wouldn’t agree.)
The apostle Paul used a metaphor more familiar to his readers (I don’t think they had cicadas in ancient Ephesus.) He says temptation from Satan is like flaming darts, the kind ancient armies flung at enemy forces and cities under siege. Paul wrote:
“Put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:13-17, NLT).
But I have trouble relating to that picture. The only armor I’ve seen was in a museum. The only armies I know are in books and movies. And can you even find a flaming dart these days?
But cicadas I’ve experienced. So when they begin their swarm in my backyard, I’m going to think of the devil. Try as I might, I won’t be able to make them go away. I can only take steps to protect myself from them. And I’ll have to do that every minute of every day they’re with us.
The Problem Is Real
We tend not to think that way about Satan. Earlier this year Biola University professor Tim Muehlhoff quoted New Testament scholar Clint Arnold. “On this topic, some of us suffer a double-mindedness,” Arnold wrote. “Although mental assent is given to the likelihood that evil spirits exist since it is affirmed in the Bible, in reality it makes no practical difference in the way we live our day-to-day lives.”
Muehlhoff asks himself, “Does the existence of a cunning and powerful adversary make a difference in how I teach my classes? Love my wife? Parent my three boys? Approach people with different political views? Address anger?”
Each of us could add our own list of everyday tasks and irritations. Do I really believe in spiritual warfare? Do I regularly compare my motives and my reactions and my choices to the standards set for me in God’s Word? Or have I unwittingly allowed the drone of the devil’s presence to push me toward compromise?
It’s not that I need to fear the devil. Muehlhoff quotes John Ortberg here: “The devil is by no means God’s counterpart. He is a creature, not the Creator.” Satan will not win unless we let him. But he won’t stop trying. Even when Jesus rebuked him in an encounter we know well, the devil didn’t leave him for good, but only “until an opportune time.”
Our broken world gives Satan many opportune times to offer us his lies. If I am arrogant or unaware or naïve, I may miss his deception.
The Solution Is Sure
The psalmist found the solution that still works for us. “How can a young man keep his way pure?” he asks, and then answers: “By guarding it according to your word. . . . I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:9, 11, ESV).
That’s all I need. I can access the truth for far less than $89.99 and enjoy its protection far more easily than donning a mesh-covered pod. I want to remember that when I’m living with cicadas soon. (And if I decide to buy one of those pods, I’ll post my picture on Facebook.)
Longtime Christ’s Church member Mark Taylor writes weekly at https://deancollins.co/saturday-posts. This piece is reposted from that site with permission.