A Lightning Bug Sheds Light on Life’s Purposes

The other evening, I watched over a field as night descended, to see if the lightning bugs had emerged yet.  Throughout 20 minutes of watching, only a solitary bug came flashing by me. It prompted me thinking about purpose in life.

Imagine fulfilling a year-long cycle of egg to larva to pupa, finally, to emerge to fulfill what biologists say is the singular purpose of the adult life of a lightning bug—to reproduce.  Eagerly flashing your light to locate potential mates, you discover, alas, a shocking fact. The field is empty!  Not another bug is to be found.  You have emerged early.  You spend the next days, flying intently around the field, flashing hopefully.  Eventually, your energy spent, you rest on a stem, as death arrives. The one purpose expected of your adult life passes unfulfilled.

We hope for, and those around us expect, a great purpose, some great accomplishment for the good of mankind, that brings meaning to our lives.  Some lives, full of accomplishments, seem full of meaning to us.  Others seem tragically wasted or ended prematurely. Yet, perhaps our sense of purpose is misdirected.  Even though that bug didn’t mate, like everyone expected it would, it provided beauty.  I enjoyed watching it’s flight, punctuated by the strobes.  So, did God.  Perhaps, it did fulfill the purpose, for which it was created, after all. The experience reminded me that our life is not measured only by what we do, but most importantly, whom we are, how we conduct ourselves, and the joy and glory we bring to God and others.

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