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  • Writer's pictureToni Wilbarger

On Cicadas and Sin

Gather 'round while we learn a little science about Magicicada, or as we called them during college: Cicadas. Also known as gross, unbelievably loud, swarming, dive-bombing masses of bugs. (Oops, did I say that?)

The term "periodical cicada" refers to any of seven species in eastern North America, the 13- and 17-year cicadas. What's unusual is that nearly all of them in certain locations are synchronized in their development and emerge in the same year, at the same time. They spend about 99.5% of their lives underground in an immature state called a nymph. In the spring of their 13th or 17th year mature cicadas emerge in the spring, all at once and in tremendous numbers. If you'd like to learn more, here's a link:

I've had the pleasure (?) of experiencing this phenomenon. These little buggers popped from the ground during my junior year of college at Ohio University (not Ohio State) in southeastern Ohio. The noise! Folks here in northern Ohio complain about how loud the cicadas are, but imagine multiplying the voices of a few by a few thousand. I remember walking through our wooded campus, startled to see them swarming on tree trunks, making it look as if the trunks themselves pulsated. Believe me, everyone walked quickly! Every so often you'd hear someone shriek because a cicada dropped from the tree onto the unsuspecting student's neck or back. One time a cicada latched onto my leg--I could feel it sucking on my skin. (Oh Jesus, save me!)

Fortunately, they don't sting and are not poisonous. And they live only a few weeks. But believe me, the experience stays with you. My friend Joyce, lover of the odd and unusual, had a field day laughing about them. That summer I attended the state fair and found this little gem. I gave it to Joyce, and we decided that, in remembrance of the cyclical cicadas, we'd send it to each other every seven years. As you can see, I have it now. But it's going straight back to Joyce in 2025!

But why the science lesson and trip down memory lane? My mind draws little comparisons sometimes, and as I remembered the 17-year cicadas I was reminded of their dive-bombing, sucking, and swarming. In some ways, sin and temptation are like those cicadas. Sometimes a tempting thought seems to come out of nowhere, like those diving insects. It startles us. But do we shake it off like we do an insect, or do we examine it, think about it, and let it turn so irresistible that we just have to do it?

Sin can swarm inside us and suck us down. Unlike the cicadas, though, we can't wait for it to go away in a few days or weeks. We need to get it out of us--off of us--as quickly as possible! We need help. We need a Savior.

Now before anyone says I'm cheapening God's grace by likening Him to a cosmic exterminator, let me be frank. It's sad--no, a tragedy--when we think if we just try harder we can fix our own lives. Jesus Himself expressed grief over His people who chose to ignore Him. In Matthew 23:37 (NLT) He said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me."

When we agree with God that we can't save ourselves and ask Jesus to help us, He washes us clean for eternity.

Even after our eternal sin problem is solved, however, guess what? Just like those cicadas that reappear like clockwork, sin keeps coming back to bother us. While we live here on earth we remain human beings who still have to fend off sin. Sometimes we give in to it. But we don't have to handle it on our own because Jesus is nearby and so very willing to save us.

He's waiting right now for you to ask Him for help. Will you let Him?

Until next time,


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Oct 20, 2023

Nice job! Thought provoking and good comparison!

Sandy Beach

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