scale bug

I wanted to know God’s will in four specific areas of my life. I wanted clarity and understanding. I wanted a deeper prayer life. I wanted to spend my month of fasting intentionally in God’s presence…and he sent me a bug.

Actually the bug had already been there about a year. We thought it was a fungus on the plants in our backyard. We sprayed for fungus and nothing happened…until God needed me to know it was a bug. I have learned that scale is a vile, pernicious, disgusting little creature. It is a parasite that actually secretes a wax coating that will protect it from pesticides. It typically attaches itself to the underside of plant leaves, and its prolific feces coats the leaves below, preventing the penetration of sunlight that will allow photosynthesis. Killing the bug is not enough; the leaves have to be cleaned or the lack of photosynthesis will kill the entire plant.

In order to save the plants in my yard, we have had to hand scrub every leaf with soapy water so that sunlight can get to the leaves again. I have a LOT of BIG bushes in my backyard. Multiple hours of scrubbing every day for 10 days have rescued almost half the backyard. And it has given me lots of time to pray.

My prayer life usually suffers from severe ADD. I have a hard time staying on topic and find it difficult to spend long spans of time in prayer. The scale bug fixed that. I wanted to know God’s will and find clarity and understanding, and God provided me long periods of time to be quiet and pray. During these 10 days God has given me some of the most beautiful weather imaginable. Because I had to reach the bottom of leaves, I was always in the shade. When I began to whine about the grossness of the scrubbing or stage my own private pity party, God frequently regained my attention with a gentle breeze or a chipmunk who was totally unafraid of me or a bird who chose to perch above me and sing.

I don’t have all the answers I want, but I do have better perspective on my requests because during the last 10 days I’ve learned to see them from God’s point of view. My prayers don’t change his mind; they change my expectations. God gave me a chore and the time that would allow me to be alone and pray without distraction. I had nothing to think about except what was on my heart. Once I shared with him all that was on my heart, I have been able to truly listen for what is on his heart. Now I’m not just “hoping for the best” and ticking off topics and names on my prayer list; I ’m watching for his activity.

This reminds me of the story of Jonah. God sent him a worm. God gave Jonah shade and a chance to pray, but his perspective never included God. He didn’t want God’s will; he wanted God’s obedience. His story in the Bible ends with him all alone, under a shriveled vine.

God led me into his presence with a bug. What Satan intends for destruction, God can redeem for good…in the world and in my backyard. The presence of that bug led me into the presence of God. Once I’m finished scrubbing, I fully intend to NEVER deal with this bug again, but I’m so grateful for the prayerful moments and holy insight that God has given me.