Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dragonfly Food for Thought

CC Image courtesy of New Orleans Lady on Flickr

~Wow! So, over the past few days I've noticed there are tons of dragonflies outside. Everytime I try to open my front door, I have to pause to wait for one to fly away from the door knob. Reminds me of the time I used to have to stop my car in the middle of the road in our apartment complex to wait for the mommy mallard duck and her ducklings to cross the street so they could get to the pond on the other side. That's nature... It's almost as if God's creatures are saying, "Hey, slow down! Look at me! Take a moment out of your busy lifestyle to view how magnificent I am." Or, perhaps that's another mighty voice we're hearing... Elijah said we would hear God in "the sound of gentle stillness as a still, small voice." (I Kings 19:11-12) Colossians 1:16 further tells us all things "exist for Him." (Amplified) I believe along with being created for God's great pleasure and delight, the dragonfly--like all of creation--exists to magnify His glory. Just as I knew Christians could teach others about our great God through actions and by being who He created us to be, I believed the dragonfly also had some wisdom to impart.

So, with a curious and determined mindset to learn more, I hurried outside toward one of my favorite places to talk with God and observe nature--underneath an apple tree in the backyard. From this location and for the past two days, I had observed many dragonflies swarming in the same open field. There could easily have been about fifty of them, if not more--it was truly an amazing sight! By doing a little research, I learned that they were having a "feeding frenzy." Dragonflies love to eat mosquitoes, which immediately gained my respect since I'm a magnet for those little blood-suckers. They also feast on gnats, termites, and other small insects. When you see multiple dragonflies swarming about, chances are they have located a large quantity of prey. It seemed that this field was like the all-you-can eat buffet at Golden Corral! Another interesting thing that drew my attention was the fact that not only did these creatures come to the same location each afternoon, but they also showed up about the same time. It never failed: 3:30pm-5:30pm seemed to be their prime meeting time in my backyard. The previous day, I had come out about 2:30pm and had seen no sign of them... too early. The day before that, I had been watching them at 5:00pm for quite some time before returning inside to do some housework. After about an hour, I curiously went back out to see if they were still there. They were not...too late.

Funny--the dragonfly was smart enough to know the best location and time of day for which there would be the greatest harvest to choose from. This is attributed to instinct, or "a largely inheritable and unalterable tendency of an organism to make a complex and specific response to environmental stimuli without involving reason." (Mirriam-Webster Dictionary)  The creation of instinct validates my belief of how much God cares for the things He created. It reminds me of Matthew 6:26-28, which speaks of God's concern for the birds and flowers. It made complete sense that the dragonflies would know when and where the best time to eat was. These creatures had been blessed by God with a "timer." As I pondered this, God began to minister to me about the importance of timing. "Timing is everything", He said. Oh how true I knew this was. I reflected on my own life and the many times I had rushed into something too fast, only to regret my anxiousness later. There were also the times I had been too slow and missed out on a good opportunity. Then my mind drifted to the magical times I had gotten it just right. It's those times we must hone in on, my friends. As we draw nearer to God and our relationship with Him grows stronger, His spiritual nudges become easier to sense.

What of the times we feel we misinterpreted God's voice and direction? Are those wasted? Certainly not. God doesn't waste anything. When those times occur, I thank God for His amazing grace and for Psalm 37:24, which reminds us, "Though he [a good man] falls, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord grasps his hand in support and upholds him." (Amplified) Another way to look at it is this: When a baby is learning to walk, how many times does he/she fall down? Do we yell at the child for not walking perfectly upright the first time? What about the second? Third? 30th? I am certain a good parent would never get angry at their baby for falling as they learn to walk upright, no matter how many times they have to try again. How then must God view us as we are learning to walk upright, or righteously toward Him? As we study the Bible, we find verse after verse of His unfailing love for us. No doubt, God wants to make sure we know who He is and how much He cares for us. He also wants to make sure we know who we are--His sons and daughters, who are to be holy as He is holy. (I. Peter 1:16) Truthfully, I believe those spiritual nudges are God's way of training us to be like Him. He is training us to be so in tune with him that our timing matches his...almost like a dance--one in which He is the leader. When He speaks, we speak. When He moves, we move. The goal is to be one and the same with God, just as Jesus was one and the same with God. "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does." (John 5:19 NIV) Friends, isn't it time we heeded what the Great Teacher modeled for us so long ago? Just as Jesus was the Son of God, you and I are called sons and daughters, or "children of God" (John 1:12-13) Jesus's above words not only serve to teach us who Jesus is, but to remind us of who we are!

Going back to the dragonfly, I want to share some interesting facts I learned about his sight and movement because I believe there is a correlation between the above verse and our educational model. Dragonflies have large compound eyes. Though we can not see them with the naked eye, each of its compound eyes are made up of thousands of tiny cone-shaped simple eyes. The dragonfly's eyes allow it to distinguish between colored, ultraviolet and even polarized light. It also enables it to detect reflection in water. Because of their large, multifaceted eyes, the adult dragonfly is able to see nearly 360 degrees around it at all times, which is bad news for its prey. Dragonflies also have superior movement and speed, often flying upward of 30 miles per hour. Further, their four wings and flight muscles allow them to move as a helicopter--sideways, backward; they can even hover in place. They can do all of these movements quickly and accurately, which makes them well suited to eat other insects right out of the air. What a picture of following God! Shouldn't we also be like the dragonfly with its 360 degree eyesight? Whatever God is doing, we are alert and ready to follow suit. And what of the helicopter movements? May we be as agile and flexible as the dragonfly, especially when God's timing requires us to move sooner than we would have chosen--or worse for some of us--to wait.

Truly-- just as God's gift of instinct tells the dragonfly to flock to the countryside filled with small insects, we must discern the move of God and flock to where He is leading us through all the phases of our lives. Sometimes it can be difficult to listen to God if He seems to be telling us to do something that is not in accordance with our life plan and agenda. However, I've noticed that it becomes much easier to heed God's gentle nudges when I remember "His plans are to prosper me and not to harm me" (Jeremiah 29:11). Let's face it--He's our Heavenly Father, and He knows best. If we succeed in listening to His voice and timing, there will no doubt be rewards to reap, just as Jeremiah 29:11 promises. Such as the dragonfly who goes by obedience to the nudging of something within that seems to say, "The harvest is ready. The timing is now," so we too must listen to the still small voice within each of us. ~


Dragonfly Research References: