George A. Bowers Sr.: We are born to impact our world
One morning this past week as I sat down to read and pray, I glanced out the window to survey the field for critters. As I did so, something in the bush near the window caught my eye. The praying mantis nest that I had been watching for months seemed to be larger and more frayed than usual. Upon closer inspection, I found it alive and crawling with hundreds of tiny insects emerging into the fresh spring air.
The last time I witnessed this phenomenon was in my sixth grade science class when all those little alien looking creatures burst forth in the bookcase cabinet of Woodstock Elementary School to the shrieks and wails of freaked-out students. Tuesday’s event was much less traumatic.
Each mantis egg case contains up to 200 babies that need several weeks of warm spring weather to hatch. Once they emerge, however, they begin to feed on aphids and other small insects and they grow quickly throughout the summer. Most wise gardeners welcome these carnivores as they prey on pests that destroy crops and flowers.
I also noticed, however, that these little fellows were not alone. A granddaddy longlegs had discovered the newborns and was happily chomping on one of them for breakfast. Meanwhile, the siblings of this unlucky individual were going in all directions with their front legs folded up as if praying either for their dearly departed brother or sister, or for their own escape.
This event was particularly striking to me because of the preschool graduation at our church the evening before. Just as those little insects came forth to scatter themselves and their influence, so too, the little preschoolers emerged from their first formal educational experience. In like fashion, over the next few weeks, millions of high school and college seniors will emerge from their educational eggs and go forth into the broad waiting world to influence it for good or ill. If they are going to please Jesus, they will need to not just look like they are praying, but actually pray. It is a dangerous world and we must prepare our young people to win life’s battles on their knees.
They also must be wary of their enemy, the evil one, who comes to steal, kill and destroy. One of the worst things we can do is to fail to prepare them for spiritual conflicts, for they are sure to come their way. Vulnerable helplessness is a surefire recipe for destruction, so we must equip them to meet their giants and courageously face them head on.
This event of emerging to impact their world can also remind us of what happened on Pentecost Sunday that we celebrate tomorrow. The newborn believers in Jerusalem scattered from that city to make an enormous impact upon the world that still continues today. Some, like Deacon Stephen, were gobbled up by the enemy right away and some are still being viciously attacked today, while others persist to swallow up evil and spread love wherever they go.
We pray that each 2015 graduate and every Christian believer would be as beneficial in our world as the praying mantises are in our gardens. We may not be as small, but we can be just as effective by both ceaseless praying as the Scripture instructs us to do, and by working to make a positive difference while we pray. May we disperse throughout our culture in order to have maximum impact and make the most difference for Jesus, and may we seek out and overcome those institutions, temptations, and sins that suck life from people as aphids drain nutrients from plants. Such a strategy will make God’s garden of the Shenandoah Valley a much more delightful place in which to live and worship.
George Bowers Sr. is the pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock and the author of four books, including his latest book of poetry, “Wit and Wisdom of the Woods.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.