The creature pumps its luminous wings, life-giving blood pulsing through the capillaries of the pink-tipped wings. It stretches long lanky legs one by one, all six.
The night is still save for the distant calls of the boobook owl, frogs in the nearby creek, and the gentle swish of the breeze amongst the leaves. Yet a miracle is happening, many times over, this evening.
In the morning, the wonder of recreation will be announced to the world with drums Ė thousands of pairs of tymbals Ė all played in unison by the males. In delight, the females will fly to them, eggs will be fertilized, laid, and so the species will continue for another generation. Maybe.
Another nymph digs a tunnel to the surface. It has been years since the nymph hatched from an egg on the tree trunk and fell to the ground, immediately digging, and feeding from the sap of tree roots. Somehow it knows that the time is right now. It isnít the first time it has shed its outer shell, but never has the change been so dramatic, nor so final, as it will be tonight.
Driven by a force unknown, as well as by its powerful front legs, it climbs up, up, up a post Ö until it bumps into another emerging beast. It falls to the bottom and begins its arduous journey again.
Take two. The small creature finds a niche and, burying its claws into the post, begins to wiggle. It arches its back Ö harder, harder, harder against the tough shell that constrains it. Finally the shape of the wing buds protrude, then the back, then finally the shell splits. Yet the heavens miss not a beat, the planets continuing their slow and steady orbits, the stars shining as powerfully as they have done for millennia.
The new life eases itself out. Two large eyes either side of three smaller eyes all take in the magnificence of creation for the first time. The long, pointed mouth emerges. Ah, relief. Yet there is a job to be done and no time for rest.
The front legs claw their way out, then the second. The body eases back, back, back, until it is hanging down at an alarming angle, the legs facing the stars. But fall it wonít. Not this time. The wings unfurl, slowly, gently, then begin to pulse, and the body rises. The last pair of legs emerge and the whole creature leans forward, its legs now clinging to the shell. Itís bottom emerges last.
Unbeknown to this cicada, a tarantula has run up the balustrade and now waits, ready to pounce, just waiting for its prey to mature. Our hero continues to pulse its wings, to get its bearings, to prepare itself for the days ahead of drumming, singing, mating and joining with the community.
Reaching out tenuously, the cicada steps off his shell, leaving the old self behind. One step, two Ö and then it is hit with the full weight of a feather-light spider. The two roll to the ground, the spider sinking its fangs into the fleshy body of its meal, the cicada thrashing its legs wildly
Evil finally wins. The venom dulls the senses of the newly emerged cicada and soon it is absorbed into the body of another of Godís creation.
Yet as the sun rises several hours later, the sounds of the birds, the frogs, the campers and even the occasional passing vehicle are drowned out by the drumming of the cicadas.
The moral of this tale is twofold.
First, church, though we may feel like and even act like selfish little nymphs at times, remember the incredible hope that we have been given. Our bodies will be glorified! We will be recreated! In the meantime, try not to knock one another down.
Second, church, watch out for the great tarantula who wants to destroy and consume us. Our number is great, his battle against us is hopeless, yet he still strives to pick us off one by one. We must watch one anotherís backs, even when absorbed with our own transformation.
We, the church of Christ, have a future even more glorious ahead of us than the humble cicada. We will be the bride of Christ, a role which will last for eternity. The tarantula will be gone, banished, its power destroyed. And we, men and women both, will play our tymbals forever to the praise of our Creator.
Itíll be something like that, anyhow.
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