Yesterday morning a friend and I walked the hills around our place, catching up. For nearly twenty years we’ve meandered like this—on wooded trails, across pastures, down country roads—talking, praying . . .and giving each other perspective through a gamut of mind-scapes that have ranged from numb to ecstatic, perplexed to joyous, bereft to grateful.
For maybe the hundredth time, we talked about letting go of worry and trusting God. Not with head-in-the-sand denial. Not with platitudes for cheap peace. Not as a means to advance our own agendas or to dismiss things because our efforts to control them haven’t worked out so well. Not as a last resort.
We were talking about replacing worry—and all the messed up behaviors that anxiety and fears generate—with that Marianas Trench deep, come-what-may, to-the-bones trust that our loving Father, well, LOVES US, and that he won’t ever, ever abandon us. With trust that he’ll go the distance with us. See us through everything.
We shared our longing for the far vision of the most seasoned God-watchers. Longing to recognize his engagement and care in every circumstance. Longing to be more patient with his timing, and to recognize the love and grace infused into his seasons, his solutions.
Easier said than done, right?
Or maybe the means of spotting God at work and letting go of worry is closer than we think. Maybe little wild things around us, creatures we typically ignore, can bolster our faith by showing us God’s perfect timing in action. The Lord speaks to us through his creation in so many ways, you know.
Take crane flies, for example—a.k.a. mosquito hawks and their larvae: leatherjackets. Here’s what they showed me.
(“Leatherjackets,” from The View from Goose Ridge)
Years ago, an old Rhode Island Red hen and I would garden together. Long after the kids had lost interest in spotting new sprouts, she would dig nearby. While I yanked moisture-sucking ironweed out of green beans, sorrel and smartweed out of peas, she’d scratch purposefully, spraying dirt behind her with her powerful legs.
That old hen couldn’t have cared less about my funny little plants. In fact, they got in her way. Though I liked to think that she enjoyed my company, I really knew that she wanted the insects I uncovered as I weeded.
One day, I stopped working and watched her. With her beak a half inch from the soil, she moved slowly through the rows, much like a cat stalking the end of a trailing string. But unlike a cat, she crooned and clucked as she went. She reminded me of my grandmother, humming while she dried dishes. Without a doubt, that hen was enjoying her pursuit much more than I was mine. So I put down my hand hoe and helped her hunt bugs.
Then the fun began. I picked cabbage loopers off of broccoli and tossed them her way. A cutworm at the base of a cauliflower was a real find. She cocked her head to watch it, then pecked it twice before swallowing it like I would a bit of pie.
Best of all, though, were the leatherjackets, the crane fly larvae that hid in the soil, looking like the gelatinous vitamin tablets I buy at the health food store. She came running for them, and if you have ever seen a red hen sprint, you know I was laughing.
Every fall, those leatherjackets metamorphose into crane flies. Then, over the course of a few short weeks, they crawl out of the soil in fields, lawns and gardens—legions of them. When I was a child, my grandmother called them “gollywhoppers.” They look like mosquitoes, only huge and clumsy, trailing legs like gangly adolescents or half-grown puppies. On occasion, my son likes to catch one of these non-stinging, non-biting bugs and hurl it at his unsuspecting sister. Mid-trajectory, the freed captive takes flight, and my startled daughter shrieks.
I like crane flies. All year long they quiet my nervous stomach by reminding me of God’s remarkable, abundant provision. Their eggs hatch in the fall, and throughout the winter those grubs lie in the earth, feeding the gulls that fly in from the bay. Spring’s blackbirds and summer’s thrushes gobble them, too. Then, just about the time the swallows are flocking, readying themselves for autumn’s flight south, the crane flies emerge. They climb out of their leathery skins at exactly the right time—fluttering, plump dinners for the migrating birds.
Year round, crane flies remind me of a promise in Philippians 4:19: “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Too, they reinforce Jesus’ words in Matthew 68 when He tells us, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” I can trust that God’s physical and spiritual nourishment waits for me. I often have to dig for it, but sometimes . . . sometimes it flies right into my face.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life,” the Lord says. “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 65-27).
Yes, I say to myself. Life is jam-packed with leatherjackets, and in my most fortunate hours, crane flies. Why do I worry about anything?
#gardening #TrustingGod #LettingGo #creepybugs