A few days ago, I was leaving the church late in the evening. The temperature had dropped and the rains had passed, leaving a dense, cool fog hanging in the night air. As I walked to the doors leading outside, I noticed multiple crane flies dancing on the glass, trying to get in. The lights inside the building coupled with the warmth coming off the door attracted them, and they were flying about with spindly legs and delicate wings swaying.
I stood there in the dim light of the foyer watching them, thinking back to lessons I taught to my Biology students. Crane flies are sometimes called “mosquito hawks” because it was once thought by some that they fed on mosquitoes and other pests, but the reality is that crane flies cannot eat other insects. They cannot sting or bite at all; they are completely harmless. In fact, with the exception of a rare sip of flower nectar or dew, they don’t eat during their adult life stage. To make matters more interesting, the adult lifespan of a crane fly is only 10-15 days. All those facts went through my mind as I saw them out in the dark, searching for a way to get inside.
With a lifespan of two weeks, what is that time in comparison to an average human lifetime? But then, what is the lifespan of a human when we compare it to eternity? It’s not just us, it’s the whole universe. The world outside my window, your window, is growing old. Dying. Longing for redemption.
“For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.” – Romans 8:22
We see it in the weeds and thorns. In the suffering and cries of those enduring the wounds of life. In the violence and unrest and mistrust we witness daily. In the hospital rooms and nursing homes and gravesides. And yes, even in a few crane flies who will soon pass quietly like an evening fog.
We live in a world that will one day pass away (1 John 2:17), but we all will live forever…somewhere. Everyone you have ever met is an eternal being. When they leave this world, another awaits each of them: they either enter into the presence of God or are separated from Him for eternity. That is the reality of the need for redemption. Sin is serious, yet God is merciful.
Perhaps that is why the crane flies gave me pause when I thought how very much like the rest of the world they are: physically temporary and seeking light and warmth in the midst of the darkness and the cold. The dying world needs the one true light, Christ, to know what it means to truly live. “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (1 John 1:4-5). One of the primary ways this happens is through those of us who follow Jesus when we understand that we are ambassadors to those outside our windows.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:14-16
So, when the crane flies are on the breeze in their brief dance toward sundown, remember how short the time is, for all of us, and make the best use of the days as you live for Jesus in a cold, dark world desperate for light and warmth.
Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.
They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment.
You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end.
The children of your servants shall dwell secure; their offspring shall be established before you.
– Psalm 102:25-28