Cicadas are a unique insect, neither grasshopper nor cricket. They emerge from foot-deep underground burrows on a 15-17 year cycle, molt their old skin and leave the dry husk on a tree. Cicadas have a brief flash of life ( a week or so) marked by flying, mating and singing.
Each of the more than 900 species of cicada has a unique song. That song comes from deep inside, where noisemakers called timbals are attached by a thin membrane to both sides of the abdomen. When those membranes move, it produces a noise which echoes through the mostly hollow chamber of the cicada’s body. They modify the sound by wiggling the abdomen towards and away from the tree on which they sit.
When you sit on your porch in the early evenings and listen to the cicadas, it’s beautifully odd. It’s nearly hypnotic because it is so steady. The background is blanketed with that buzz and hum, in the same way that the crashing surf does at the ocean.
While I was running early one morning last week and listening to the cicadas, I had this thought: cicadas wait a long time to get here, but when their time comes, they sing and live with all their might.
There’s a lesson there for us. We may quietly live our ordinary, everyday lives—and our ordinary faith in Jesus– for days or weeks or months at a time. Nothing unusual, extraordinary, or even terribly exciting happens by most standards.
But then there comes a moment when it becomes clear that it is time to emerge from our shell and live out our Jesus-treasuring convictions in an utterly unmistakable way. To sing the song He has given and have it resonate through every fiber of our being and out into our relationships, workplace, family or community. To so live that people become aware that we know, love, follow, obey and treasure Jesus above all things.
I don’t know what that moment will be for you or when. It’s just vital to be ready when our time comes. The great American pastor Jonathan Edwards once wrote: “resolved…to live while I yet live.” Paul put it like this: “Be careful how you live, not as unwise, but as wise, redeeming the time, making the most of every opportunity”” (Eph. 5:15-16).
Cicadas live for a flash in a way that nobody can ignore- and then they’re gone. Maybe those of us who are Jesus’ disciples—created, reborn, redeemed, graced, gifted, empowered and filled— can live with passion and sing His song in way that blankets our world so that every soul hears.