Thursday, April 18, 2013

Where is thy Sting?




The bees have alzheimers. That is what the beekeeper at Monroe Tires suspects. (By the way, Monroe Tires doesn't necessarily need a beekeeper, but he told me that is his side job.) He sees his bees go out in the morning to pollinate the flowers, but many don't return. He thinks the pesticides and genetically modified plants are messing up the bee's chemistry. He suspects they are getting confused, and lost, and our planet is in big trouble if the honeybees die.
"Most of our food plant sources depend on the bee for pollination," he told me, handing me his business card. I put it in my wallet, just in case I was ever in need of a beekeeper.

This is a much bigger problem than global warming, and probably one we could affect. Why is no one sounding the alarm about the dying bees? They are such a quiet part of nature. They don't grab our attention the way a tornado, or bomb, or gun rampage does, so when the threat of their absence is mentioned, little hubbub ensues. Most people don't love bees, particularly if they are allergic to the sting. But Bees are one of those creatures, stinger and all, that we cannot live without.

With the recent sudden death of Raivo, my husband's brother, I have naturally been thinking a lot about the tenuous hold each of has on life. In a moment, we too could be gone. The optimistic response is to live every second with joy, and wonder, and delight. I struggle to memorize, so only a few verses in the Bible easily flow into my head when I am pondering deep and sobering thoughts. But one verse that keeps returning to me the past few days is , "O death, where is thy sting?"

I find it curious to remember that verse while learning about the plight of the honeybee. I have been stung by bees, and it really hurts. Yet, I love honey, and I love flowers, and both are only possible with the bee.

The sting of death is its permanence. And the Bible tells us that the consequence of sin is death. We all sin, hence we all die. Once we die, we lose all the sweet joy of life, and I think few of us face that prospect unwaveringly. But death doesn't have to be the end of the story. No matter how great my doubt and how little my faith, about thirty years ago, I came to trust that Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sin so that by His substitutionary sacrifice, I can stand righteous before God. The sting of death is removed, and it becomes not an enclosed grave, but a door into eternity.

My prayer as I ponder the dying honeybees is that everyone would let the tiny voice of faith bring them to their knees, asking Jesus to forgive them for their doubt, and increase their faith. It was a prayer He answered for me abundantly, when I was young and death seemed but a distant legend.

1 Corinthians 15:50-57 (NIV)
I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. [51] Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed--- [52] in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. [53] For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. [54] When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” [55] “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” [56] The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. [57] But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
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