I was sitting outside on the deck one summer day when something caught my eye in the double window pane above an air conditioning unit. He was moving ever so slowly, taking a few steps and stopping to feel around. “He” was a grasshopper, the bright green kind which jump and fly clumsily into the air if you disturb them or get too close. They’ll come out of the tall grass and scare the buhjeezus out of you.
I don’t know how he wedged himself in there but he was “stuck.” Thing is, he was only a few inches from the opening in the top of the pane. I watched him curiously and then started talking to him. “Dude. You’re like, two inches from the opening. Can’t you feel or smell the fresh air?” Apparently he could not because he would move slowly toward the opening, stop, and crawl back down toward the AC unit. Frustrated for him, I went indoors to grab a fly swatter to see if I could help the critter out. When I came back, he was still there, crawling in circles and not making any moves toward the only escape. As I thought through how to get him out with the fly swatter, it hit me that if I tried to flick him or push him out, I’d likely end up mortally wounding or killing him right away. They look like sturdy bugs but I’m certain that, like most, they are quite delicate. I know – WAY too much for a bug – but I was genuinely concerned that if he didn’t get out, he might die. Maybe he was already dying and that’s why he wasn’t moving fast… who knows.
I thought about trying to move the pane out but it would have been too difficult with the AC unit underneath. I even tapped gently on the glass underneath him, thinking maybe he would feel the vibration and move the opposite way (toward the opening). Didn’t work. Out of ideas, I finally decided there was nothing I could do. I had no control over the situation and could not help the helpless creature. That saddened me because I could see just how close he was to freedom. I thought about that grasshopper several times during the night. I’d named him (Jeremiah) and didn’t think about why. It just seemed like a good name. Now I understand. I found this online:
Jeremiah had a deep empathy for his people and is known as “the Weeping Prophet,” because he cried tears of sadness, not only because he knew what was about to happen, but because no matter how hard he tried, the people would not listen. See Lamentations.
Coincidence? Nope. Divine Order.
When I came outside the following day, there, on the top of the AC unit protruding slightly from the window, was Jeremiah. He died during the night. I shook my head sadly, “I wanted to help you. I really did. I’m sorry.” I couldn’t tell if he had finally crawled out, only to die, or if he died and then fell out. Nevertheless, he was gone. While you will probably think I am nuts (and umm, I don’t care), I went into the back yard and dug a tiny grave for that grasshopper. I didn’t want anything to disturb or eat him so I carefully covered him up, placed a rock and a wildflower on top, and stated simply, “I return you to God.” I journaled about this grasshopper years ago but never shared the story with anyone. The lesson I learned from this odd interaction with the little green grasshopper became clear and I remember it from time to time.
Like I said, I don’t know how Jeremiah got in the window pane but the truth is, sometimes we walk casually into the worse struggles of our life, meaning, he may have just crawled in there. Sometimes we (or someone we love) is “stuck” like that. Holding on, trying to find their way, searching… grasping for some relief. All because we can’t see the big picture. We definitely have a difficult time seeing it for ourselves and sometimes your loved ones think they see your picture. How could they know your story? I believe no one knows my story but God. He knows when I wake and when I sleep. He knows how it began and thus, how it will end. It’s human nature to try to predict what will happen to someone on a particular path but your story is NOT written by other people. It’s not even written by you! The saddest part about that little green bug to me was just how close he came to getting out, to the blessing of fresh air and getting back to his grasshopper life. I wanted to help but I would have done more harm than good.
When I’m going through struggles in life, I know that God is watching. He sees me walking in circles but I know He allows things to happen in my life to build character. I know you’re thinking, “but the bug DIED Val,” however, as I said, perhaps it was Jeremiah the Grasshopper’s time to go. I can definitely relate to feeling trapped, feelings of hopelessness and wanting to give up. I AM that grasshopper at times but I am not an insect. God cares for and provides for all His creatures ([biblegateway passage=”Matthew 6:26″ display=”Matthew 6:26″] ) and we are valuable to Him. The message I received is sometimes the way out is right there. Literally – like the few inches Jeremiah could have crawled. Because we can’t see the big picture, we don’t know just how close we really are to the tremendous life He wants for us. Light is there in the darkest of times and the direst of situations.
It’s what keeps me going in the midst of deep depression, discouragement and turmoil. I have to trust and believe that a breakthrough could be right around the corner. I could literally reach out and touch it with my big toe if I tried. One touch of His favor and everything could be different. When I’m helpless, I expect to be helped by God. He uses others to bless me but they may not be equipped to help in certain ways (like me with the fly swatter). It can also get pretty lonely inside a struggle – another commonality with Jeremiah the Prophet. All I know is what seemed to be a silly story about an insect turned into a powerful spiritual lesson for me: when you believe, help is always available and often closer than you think.
If you don’t continue to fight, pray and believe, you may not make it to that next blessing. Hold on. Just hold on.