We were camping at the Panther Creek State Park in Morristown, Tennessee recently. It is a beautiful park, with great facilities including a playground, swimming pool, trails, big fields for soccer or just for running, and beautiful overlooks.
Differing camping styles was on vivid display since there was a tent camping couple immediately next to our RV and a small tent across the street for a family with two children.
It was glorious. Time to relax, to read, to just contemplate the glories of our Lord’s creation. When we had the campfire along with the obligatory s’mores, the two girls from across the street joined in, and later their parents came to tell them it was time for bed, and then the girls’ parents sat down and joined our circle of conversation. What a great way to meet people and share our Christian experience, around the campfire!
At this campground, the RV backed up to the woods and the fireflies in the evening were myriad. Each evening when dusk descended, the chirping of thousands of cicadas was heard, loud and clear, in a way that is impossible in urban life. We might hear a couple of crickets in the backyard: but in the campground woods, the din from the cicadas was positively deafening.
Cicadas. They are an interesting creation of our God and a direct counterpoint to a camping experience – talk about fast living! The 17 year cicada lives underground, around the base of trees in forests and woodland areas, and they dig tunnels in the dirt as their living quarters for 17 years. Then they come out from their underground nursery, after maturing for all those years, by climbing out of “escape chimneys” that they have dug to the surface.
When the ground temperature reaches 64 degrees Fahrenheit, they receive a signal. The insects rise up and wriggle out of their burrows to take to the sunlight and fly to freedom, well actually they are not so much looking for freedom as for a mate. Then, after 4 to 6 weeks, during which time the males have mated and the females have laid their eggs underground, they die. Seventeen years later, the ritual occurs again, and the beat goes on.
The Preacher in the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament of the Bible considers life under the sun and calls it “vanity”. R. C. Sproul and other theologians don’t define “vanity” as being vain or of interest in and to oneself, and it certainly is not a table in the boudoir. Rather, Biblical “vanity” is defined as being “futile”. In other words, the Preacher in Ecclesiastes is saying that life is futile – there is no point to it and it just exists and repeats without any ultimate meaning. That certainly seems to be descriptive of the cicada’s life.
But, whether or not the cicadas are a 17-year-occurring annoyance or if they have a significant role to play in the ecological foundation of our world, it is certain that our human lives are not meant to be played out in such manner. We are not insignificant insects to God, the Creator of thousands of galaxies.
The fact of the matter is that God sent His own Son, Jesus Christ, to this sin-sick world. He died for us to pay the price of our sin. If we believe that he died and rose again from the dead, and if we repent of our sins and claim Him as our Savior, by faith we will be declared to be a Child of God.
The Preacher in Ecclesiastes concludes by saying:
“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commands, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.”
Do you want meaning for your life? There is no secret or magic pill. To find meaning, just reach out and grab the outstretched nail-pierced hand of Jesus. Fear God and keep his commandments. This is the whole duty of man and woman! This provides life’s meaning. This is fulfilment!
Amen and amen.