What diminishing lightening bugs show us

©Joy Dunlap  https://joydunlap.com

Like twinkling stars, fireflies light up night skies in backyards, woods, and fields creating a world of enchantment.  Flashes of light in the wooded area behind our house a few weeks ago both excited and soothed me. Just as comfort foods remind us of our childhood, so too do experiences that connect today with yesterday.

Catching the tiny insects and putting them in a jar to create a flashing lamp is a memory etched deep in my mind from childhood. Perhaps that’s a memory you share?  Today I prefer to watch the fireflies flying free, enjoying their short lives, and putting on light shows in the evenings.

As we watch the lightning bugs flicker, dance in the sky, and illuminate the landscape with their own kind of light-based Morse code, we experience the wonder anew.

Christians also connect and communicate in the “Light.”

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  John 8:12 NIV

Are fewer carriers of light visible in the darkness these days?

Lightning bugs delight us, but they’re in decline. That’s upsetting to think about because the lights provide many children – and adults – with much joy!

Much of the decline is believed to be due to light pollution and habitat encroachment.

When other light sources pervade an area, fireflies find it harder to let their light be seen and to connect with one another. The light they each have in them becomes more difficult to see.

Most of us rightly think of their lights attracting mates and identifying species, but the bioluminescence of some fireflies also provides protection against predators. We, of course, benefit from the enjoyment they bring to life.

As development spreads and desired lifestyles change, the once stable and growth environments of the light carriers grow smaller. Shaded areas disappear. Trees fall.  Fields become hard surfaces instead of tall grasses.

According to experts, when habitats of these light-emitting creatures are overtaken, fireflies don’t move; they disappear.

These purveyors of light are on five continents and have more than 2000 species (170+ in North America alone).  Yet they are in danger.

Three things we can do to build the population of lightning bugs actually correlate to how we can also keep the “Light” of Christ shining and spreading.

Incorporate water features in landscape 

Standing water, ponds, streams, rivers and manmade water features (without chemicals) provide healthy habitats for the insects.  Lightning bugs like to lay eggs near water and they remain in that area during their lifespan.

Our habitats as believers are also healthier if we stay close to the main water source – the “Living Water.”  If we draw daily from the well of the Creator, we stay refreshed and revitalized and His light shines through us. 

Add nutrients and avoid pesticides 

Certain chemicals impact the lives, food sources and development of lightning bugs, but compost, leaves, and organic matter can have a positive impact.

Is it any surprise that our lives – and our light – as believers can be damaged if we take in (and pass on) slander, malice, rage, envy and other evil that threaten the joy and wonder God gives us? 

Feasting on God’s goodness with grateful hearts and following the guidance He’s given us in the Bible allows us to live life abundantly and even dance in the darkness. 

Engage with neighbors

When neighbors spray heavily for mosquitos or treat their lawns with harsh chemicals near ours, it may affect the habitat needed to keep the fireflies flying and lighting up the skies.  Perhaps they’re unaware of the dangers.

Showing them what we’ve discovered about the threat and sharing the joy we’re seeing through the lightning bugs may open their eyes in a new way.

What if we put God’s love in action, and communicate the “Light” Jesus brought to the world and how that “light” and love impacts us?  In sharing the wonder, we can point out the dance of delight found in the darkness. 

Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:15-16 NIV

  • What memories do you have of lightning bugs?
  • When was the last time you watched the lights dance? Or danced in the Light?
  • Is anything encroaching on your light shining?
  • What changes can you make to your habits and habitat to keep God’s Light shining bright in you for all to see?

Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.

Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him.  John 12:35-37 NIV


Life is Better When It’s Full – Joy-full, Thank-full, Purpose-full and Friend-full! ™


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