Lessons from a Cicada

Sometimes, lessons come from the strangest of places.

This weekend, I was dog sitting for my parents, and being a horticulturalist, I decided to walk around their garden and fruit orchard, inspecting the health of the plants and the potential apple and plum harvest. As I meandered through the fruit trees, I quickly noticed something abnormal.

There were hundreds, thousands, of shed cicada exoskeletons. Clinging to the trunk and leaves, and scattered in piles on the ground. It was astonishing-the sheer volume of shells. I remembered an email I had received the week before, and shot a message to the “bug lady” at work (which technically should be me, but bugs are not my specialty).

Periodical cicada

It turns out these critters have a fascinating story. They happen to be the periodical cicada, known also as the 17 year cicada/locust. After hatching from an egg, these cicada nymphs burrow into the ground at the base of a tree and spend 17 years feeding in the ground (not harming the tree, though). After 17 years, they emerge, nearly at once, in a staggering quantity, up to 1.5 million cicadas per acre. They live for 5-6 weeks as a cicada above ground, breeding and laying eggs, before they die and the cycle begins anew with their offspring.

Friends, I’ve felt like I’ve been in a waiting period lately, and the past several months have been frustrating. Imagine 17 years of this! Maybe some of you have been there.

Ok, yes, I’m talking about a bug (admittedly a cool one), but it lives underground for 17 years, patiently feeding, maturing, and waiting for their emergence, which is fascinating. It is a pretty awesome site to see, if a bit creepy. And then, the spend just a few weeks doing what they are meant to do. Seventeen years of waiting for just a few weeks.

17 year periodical cicada

Sometimes I try to rush along this process called life. Sometimes I want to push the fast forward button and skip over the waiting parts. But things are happening during the waiting. My heart changes, maturing and finding new passions and goals. My wisdom grows, providing a way to make prudent choices. I learn about myself and my identity in Christ. If I rush along the process, something has to give. And that something could be very important in the realization of my God-Sized Dream.

So I am accepting the waiting. However long it is, whatever happens in this period, I will await for the incredible emergence, and pray it’s everything He has planned. If only I can be as patient as the periodical cicada.

I’m linking up today with Holley Barrett at Testimony Tuesday. For more great posts, check out her blog!

Holly Barrett


10 thoughts on “Lessons from a Cicada

  1. I am so not a bug person! But can totally relate to wanting to push the fast forward button on our waiting periods. Thanks for sharing your great encouragement to continue to wait while He does the work in us.

  2. True, think Jesus waited 30 years to come into His ministry to serve for only 3. Something to ponder and remember when the waiting gets hard.

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