Space Invaders

Space Invaders

Down here betwixt the Golfo de México and the Atlantic Ocean we’re smack dab in the throes of C.F.M.S. (Central Florida Monsoon Season)—and have been for a couple weeks or so (probably more like “or so”). Plus, with Tio Alberto doing a drive-by and adding his own brand of joie de vivre in the mix, the rain has refused to let up for any extended period of time and everything is starting to mildew. The mouseke-tourists have even been trying to use their Fastpasses to go to the head of the line to buy ponchos. (On the upside, a few pasty Yankees will probably be spared the threat of skin cancer.)

Don’t get me wrong—we need the rain. A few weeks ago, everything in my yard was brown. And not a pretty brown, like a Hershey Bar or a roast beef sandwich, but a given-up-the-ghost brown, kind of like old guacamole. The only greenness to be had in my yard was due to a big, lush patch of invasive flora—a/k/a weeds. From a distance, though, it still looked green, thanks to the weeds. I’m sure passersby were thinking, “That man has a nice green yard. I wonder what his secret is?”

Laziness. Laziness is my secret. Makes me think of a verse from Proverbs…

I went past the field of a sluggard…the ground was covered with weeds, and the stone wall was in ruins. Proverbs 24:31-32 NIV

(I don’t have a stone wall, but my driveway has a few cracks…

And now for the rest of the story…

Thou shalt love thy gneighbor as thyself

God has poured out His love in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5:5

I have gnats – and no, that’s not a euphemism for anything. I mean gnats: the infernal, flitting, annoying-way-beyond-their-size, ever-multiplying, practically-impervious-to-extermination insectoid spawn of Satan.

There’s a slight possibility their presence has something to do with that rotisserie chicken carcass I left in the kitchen garbage for, well, a while. In my defense… Oh, forget it – there is no defense. I just forgot it was in there until the house began to smell like deli and dirty feet. When I opened the lid, it was a gnat-a-palooza. (This is a stainless steel can, too, so those little buggers must be really sturdy to have raised the lid and strong-armed their way in there.)

I gotta say, I was impressed with their organization on and around the decomposing mass formerly known as lemon pepper chicken. There were little tiny flags planted in all the soft parts and I kept hearing what sounded like a really stirring, high-pitched national anthem (or, I guess, gnational anthem).

Of course, before long they weren’t content to stay in the garbage – eventually, they felt the gneed to spread out and bring their own teeny brand of joie de vivre to the rest of the house. Apparently they love me – I think they see me as some sort of really big gnat leader. They join me for breakfast and dinner, they watch me brush my teeth, and they wander across the pages of my Bible while I read, masquerading as periods and commas and providing unintended punctuation:

I have been crucified with. Christ and I, no longer live.

But seek. first his kingdom, and his righteousness, and all these. things will be given to you as well.

This is the day. that, the LORD has made.

In order to figure out how to get rid of them I did what I normally do – I Googled. Basically any anti-gnat resources I found just said that if I got rid of their breeding grounds (i.e. rotisserie chicken carcasses) they would eventually stop multiplying.

Gnot helpful – I don’t have time to just wait around until they get bored and leave. So in lieu of carrying around an industrial-strength can of Raid and a gas mask I decided to “take matters in hand,” so to speak. As it turns out, I have pretty good reflexes for someone my age. Why, even as I’m typing this, there’s one on my…


…computer screen.

But every time I miss one, that’s just one more opportunity for him (Her? S/he?) to set up a brand new gnursery in an apple core and start the whole cycle all over again.

It’s gnever-ending.

Sort of like God’s love. (You knew I would get there eventually.)

God’s love toward me is one of those immeasurable, amazing, almost-incomprehensible-without-getting-a-headache kinds of blessings; however, on a par with being loved by God is the reality of being enabled to love (as near as possible) as He loves. As Romans 5:5 says:

God has poured out His love in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us. (emphasis mine)

Think of it as a love infestation – like gnats. Like I mentioned, they’re not content to sit on the sidelines and watch; they want to be up in my business, doing the two-step across the computer screen and exploring the cutting board while I prepare dinner. (Cantaloupe juice is like gnat crack.) They can’t help it – it’s in their gnature.

Likewise, because of the reality of that amazing love with which God has made available to me through the Holy Spirit, being a Christian is not something I can treat as a spectator sport. The love He poured out in my heart when I became a follower of Jesus compels/drives/urges me to take action and share that love by showing it to others. For instance:

  • Cruising the hangouts of the needy in my community in an effort to provide a meal for someone who may be hungry.
  • Scrambling around to raise money so I can go to Guatemala and build houses for the poor.
  • Taking to my knees, pleading with God to rescue lost family members before it’s too late.

Just like the gnats, I can’t help it – it’s in my new nature.

Obviously I’ve learned a lesson or three from my uninvited house guests (other than the importance of hauling a spent chicken carcass outside tout de suite). My little gnat gninjas taught me to:

  • Get out of the gnest I love my choir peeps and Sunday School family and hanging out with my Christian brothahs and sistahs. It’s safe and comfortable and warm and nobody cusses; and that’s what being part of a body of believers should be. But those gnats didn’t stay in their little stainless steel gniche – they left the can in large gnumbers and did a little mission work, planting gnat gnurseries in places I’m still discovering.
  • Play gnice Psalm 100:2 (KJV) says to “Serve the Lord with gladness.” Those gnats are a joyful bunch. (At least I guess they are. They’re way too squirmy to be sulky.) I do wish they had been a little less gregarious and spent more time hiding behind the refrigerator but, no – they spread their gnosiness with great verve. If you’ve got a job to do – and, as a Christian with a heart full of God’s love, I do – you may as well do it with happiness.
  • Do it gnow My gnat gneighbors didn’t wait around for that chicken carcass to come to them – at the first whiff of decay they were colonizing that baby. Likewise, since God has gone to the trouble to pour – not trickle – His love in my heart, I have to take that with a sense of immediacy. James 4:14 says: “You do not even know what will happen tomorrow.” So what am I waiting for?

The love God has poured out in my heart is powerful. And I‘m not talking a sip from a Dixie Cup – I’m talking Niagara Falls without the barrel. Oh, it’s definitely tempting to just hang out and bask in God’s blessings and wait for Him to come collect me when this life is over. (I’ve heard that described as being a “Lady Clairol Christian” – only God knows for sure). But I’m afraid if I ignored the compelling force that is His love for long the unthinkable would happen – it would dry up.

Anything but that… I’d rather have the gnats.

I’m sure one day my gnat gnightmare will be over. Until then, I’ll continue to go and share God’s…