Monday, October 21, 2013

The Challenge Continues, Day 288: Ezekiel 35-36; Psalm 86; Revelation 9

Locusts, and Pain
When I was twelve, I tripped and fell into a nest of fire ants. I wasn't on the ground, or in the nest, for long; but I was there long enough. The fire ants swarmed my hands and feet, just a few dozen and I attempted to strike them off my skin as fast as I could. Still, more than a few got me, biting and tearing as deep as they could into my flesh and then injecting their venom into the tiny wounds they made.

And then, the burning started. They are called fire ants for a reason. My skin burned, the bites swelled up on me and I could feel the venom, just the little bit that got into me from the bites, render me shaky and weak. I had friends that had worse happen to them. One childhood friend had to make a visit to the hospital. We learned quickly to avoid those mounds of loose sand and to steer clear of those little, ruby-red berserker ants. No one wants that experience twice. That sort of pain not only inflicts harm on the body, it scars the soul as well.

Those memories come to the fore when I read of this plague of locusts-that-are-more-than-locusts in Revelation today. From the abyss, these monsters are summoned up into the daylight and given leave to afflict humanity, ending a third of them in suffering. These are the beginning of the images that foster consternation and worry in they metaphorical depictions of events contemporary to John's time or forecasts of the end times themselves. Why would God visit such preternatural destruction on the earth? Why such horrors...and then why do the people not repent? It's maddening. Here is this global affliction, and you would think people would take notice, and like Nineveh in the Book of Jonah, repent and turn to God? Instead, John append the chapter with the little tidbit that informs us that the people persisted in idolatry, petitioning their little clay-molded, metal-plated household gods for help instead of turning to the Most High for solace.

Truth is, human beings persist in bad habits, even when we learn (the hard way or otherwise) that keeping up with those choices brings negative consequences. God willing, those consequences are more on the scale of my tripping into a mound of fire ants, rather than a cosmic cataclysm of scorpion-like locust plagues summoned from the abyssal depths. Look at my life today, I realize that it is the small moments of repentance and metanoia (turning of the mind to God) that bring God's victories into my life. May God give us the strength and resolve to make those small changes before the universal consequences hit home.

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