My childhood teddy bear was Smokey Bear. I took lipstick and colored his paws red to represent burn marks and wrapped them in bandages just like rangers did in the book. The well-loved toy sits on a shelf in my bedroom back home and still if I see a costumed Smokey out and about, I’m a fangirl. The icon was created in 1944 in a joint effort by the U.S. Forest Service and the Ad Council to promote forest fire awareness and prevention. It must have worked as generations since have been singing Smokey’s song and pledging alongside him to practice fire safety. The slogan “Only YOU can prevent forest fires.” is etched in my brain.
Fireflies have nothing to do with actual fire, and they aren’t really flies…but they do look like floating embers from a poked campfire. Growing up we used to smash them on our clothes and run around “glowing” excitedly, but that was before modern glow sticks and nowadays kids have more sense. It’s still cool to catch them in a Mason jar with holes in the lid and then release them the next day.
During a recent warm spell, I saw the strangest thing. A lightning bug was trying to mate with a tiny LED bulb on a strand of outdoor lights. I never checked on it again but as I worked I wondered how long it stayed there. Did it ever move on to find something real??? And I realized God probably wonders the same thing about us…Are we attracted to things that aren’t real or aren’t true? Do our misguided thoughts override God’s plans for us and we miss out because we are cuddled up to an LED so to speak?
I’m not sure why lightning bugs get to don the name lightning. They are gentle, twinkling, lights floating playfully around the fields. Lightning is a bit more intense (dangerous flashes of 100 million to 1 billion volts). Eight of my friends have been struck by lightning, and it probably has nothing to do with me. One was caught in an unexpected storm whilst on a boat fishing and made it to shore but got struck as he ran across the wooden dock. The nail he stepped on left a burn mark through his sneaker. The other seven were hiking on Grandfather Mountain in NC when a storm came out of nowhere and they all received secondary strikes. It’s real and it’s powerful, so we must never underestimate it.
David poetically used mighty lightning to represent God’s thundering voice answering his cries for help when he was drowning in despair: 2 Samuel 22:14-18 “The Lord thundered from heaven, and the most High uttered his voice. And he sent out arrows, and scattered them; lightning, and discomfited them. And the channels of the sea appeared; the foundations of the world were discovered, at the rebuking of the Lord, at the blast of the breath of his nostrils. He sent from above, he took me; he drew me out of many waters; He delivered me…” We all face unexpected storms in life, and Easter reminds us that we can be rescued.
It is also a time for us to come out of hibernation and consider the burning question of what to do with Jesus. How many eye witnesses does it take before we declare something true? Even a jury today would accept the 500 eyewitnesses recorded in 1 Corinthians 15:6 as proof. Did you know there is even more secular documentation of Jesus’ death and resurrection than records of Julius Caesar yet we don’t question Caesar’s existence? Yes, Jesus is real and we need to decide what to do with Him. When it comes to making the biggest decision of our life, let’s make sure the light we are drawn to is the true Light, and when it comes to preventing eternal fire, “Only YOU can…”
Janet Cowger- Fliegel