Lightening Bugs

“While the earth, seedtime and harvest and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” Genesis 8:22

It was nearly dark when my husband and I left the barn after a busy day of farm chores and began our short walk to the house. To our surprise, in an area shaded by tall trees, an iridescent light show was in process— provided by lightening bugs (or fireflies). We both remembered from our childhood, the fun of catching lightening bugs and putting them in a jar. But lightening bugs don’t live in the desert of Arizona, so it had been many years since lightening bugs graced our home.

My first words were, “Only God could have created lightening bugs!” So true, but curiosity prompted me to learn more about these fascinating bugs. There are no flashing lightening bugs west of Kansas and they are exclusive to the Western hemisphere. They’re actually a winged beetle and use a cold light, with no infrared or ultraviolet frequency. This chemically produced light from the lower abdomen may be yellow, green, or pale red.

The light show is for mating purposes and once the eggs are laid, the female will die within 3-4 weeks. And don’t assume the flashes are random. In many locations, their light show is synchronized. And here’s the exciting information: the best location in the western hemisphere to see the synchronous fireflies is in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park! They say it’s an experience you will never forget. But what does a lightening bug have to do with God?

Scripture tells us that God takes pleasure in his creation. Five times in the Genesis account of creation, God steps back from his work and says, “and God saw that it was good”. I can almost see him stepping back from the lightening bug and saying ‘it is good’. Creating a watermelon, corn on the cob, strawberries, birds that fly, dogs that bark and cats that purr must have given him great satisfaction. Psalm 104 is a beautiful account of God’s creativity and it closes with:

“May the glory of the Lord continue forever! The Lord takes pleasure in all he has made! The earth trembles at his glance; the mountains smoke at his touch.”

God rejoices in his creation because it reveals his incomparable wisdom. Only God could create the beauty of the Grand Canyon and the galaxies too numerous to count. He is the intelligent designer/creator of the human body and the emotions we share.

“O Lord, what a variety of things you have made! In wisdom you have made them all. Ps 104:24

God’s power shouts his glory and cannot be harnessed. Only God could create a hurricane, an ice storm or calm the raging sea. We are stunned when we see evidence of his power in a glacier moving ever so slowly.

We can stand in awe of our all-powerful, incomparable God, but I believe he has another motive in demonstrating his glory. I believe he wants us to see his glory, his sacrificial love and accept his plan of salvation. We see his sacrificial love throughout scripture and culminating in the virgin birth of Jesus, his only son. What love would compel the Almighty God to send his son to earth where he would be mistreated and maligned by the arrogant religious leaders of his day; rejected by his family and suffer the agony of crucifixion.

God’s love for us is one of many facets of his glory. It was his plan to spend eternity with us; but our sin nature had to be dealt with before we could enter Heaven. Made in his image, we have an innate longing to be with him and enjoy intimacy with him. Nothing else will do.

“...bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” Isaiah 43:6-7

God rejoices in the works of creation because they point us beyond ourselves to God himself. Those lightening bugs were created by our God so that we would stop long enough to acknowledge that only an all- powerful, omniscient Creator could be responsible for them. God’s creation brings praise to him but it also brings joy to him.

There are many things created by him that will never be seen by humans. Monsters of the sea, galaxies that are light years from Earth and microscopic organisms yet to be discovered by scientists are all created by our Father for his joy and to proclaim his glory. All of creation is an expression of his glory; his power; and his incomparable wisdom.

Can you see his hand and his glory in something new today? He would probably enjoy hearing you thank and praise him for something specific in his creation.

“The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known.” Psalm 19:1-2


Carol Nahm and husband Chris, a local OBGYN, relocated to Cookeville from Phoenix in search of four seasons and a slower pace of life.  They've been at the River since 2009.  Carol serves as a lay-counselor at The River where she started the Stephen Ministry and now leads Mending the Soul, a ministry for victims of sexual and domestic abuse.

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The High Dive

Summer time means swim time at our house.  We love all things water and try to get as much of it as possible.  These summer days have me think about jumping off the high dive.  What joy when we make that jump and come up from the water with a smile on our face!  Sometimes, we are fearless and climb right up that ladder, walk the plank and jump.  Other times, we nervously climb up and hesitate at the top or sometimes we climb right back down and sit on the side of the pool and watch everyone else jump….

I think our trust in God is a lot like a high dive.  For me, there are times that I fully trust God’s plan and I do not hesitate to jump.  Other times, I timidly climb the ladder and stand at the edge with shaky legs looking at the water and fearfully step off. Sadly, there are times that I am too afraid to even climb up the ladder.  I want to stay on the ground and watch where I think I can control the situation and stay safe.  

It seems a little crazy that there have been so many times in my life that I fully trust,  but a new season will come and it feels like I’m paralyzed.  I start to believe that the ladder is higher or the pool isn’t as deep, even though I have made that jump before.  I will over analyze and question God and wonder if I can really trust him.  Sometimes we forget how many times we have jumped and landed safely in the water, and we fear that this time will be different. 

Trust can be scary, but God asks us to trust him.  Above all else, we must trust even when we cannot see.  I ultimately want to have peace in my life, and we cannot have peace if we misplace our trust.  Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”

Where are you in your walk to trust God? Are you climbing the high dive or sitting and watching others?  

In what area is God asking you to jump?

Do you have peace? If not, where are you not trusting God?

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you that I can trust you.  Thank you for always loving me and being faithful. Please help me to fully trust you and your plans even when I cannot see what is ahead.  Help my faith and give me peace during this season.  In Jesus name, Amen.


Terri McWilliams is a girl that has been chased down by the Lord and loves him with all her heart.  She and her husband Ted have three children, Taylor, Ethan and Lily and have been members of the River for 17 years.  Terri volunteers with Collision Student Ministry and is an accountant at Tennessee Tech University. 

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Father to the Fatherless.

My dad was as cool as they come. An avid paintballer, a creative genius with a published book and more on the way, a sense of humor that could make anyone feel at ease. At least, that’s how I remember him. My dad was diagnosed with colon cancer at the young age of 36. I was 5. Most of my memories of my dad involve hospital rooms with beeping machines and IVs. My dad fought for nearly a year but lost his battle at the age of 37. As a 6 year old, I didn’t comprehend the weight of the loss before me. But now, as an adult, I do.

As the years have gone by, the weight of my dad’s loss has only become heavier. Proms, graduations, my wedding day…always an empty spot at the table, a hole in our hearts that failed to heal fully. My dad’s birthday and passing date are never easy, but Father’s Day is my least favorite day of the year, every year.

I don’t doubt I’m in good company. Father’s Day may be your least favorite day of the year, too, but maybe for a different reason. Maybe your father wasn’t as involved as he should’ve been. Maybe your father wasn’t as kind as he could’ve been. Maybe you never met your father and each year you dwell on what he may have been like. Whatever your reason, you’re not alone.

Regardless of what emotions thinking of your father bring, we can find comfort knowing we have a strong tower that never waivers. We have a constant hope that never fails. We have a love that won’t disappoint. In God, we have a good good Father, the best Dad ever, the most awesome Daddy in the world…whatever you want to call Him, He’s it. Our God embraces the prodigal son (Luke 15). He is aware of our needs before we speak them and meets them every time (Matthew 10). Our Heavenly Father goes after each and every one of us tirelessly (Luke 15).

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.

Psalm 68:5

My prayer for you is that this year, no matter the state of your relationship with your earthly father, your relationship with your Heavenly Father would be strengthened. May despite your disappointments, your sadness, your regret, you shift your eyes above to the One who loves you fully, without condition.


Alex Conner is a newly-married twenty-something. She and her husband Craig have been members of The River since early 2018. Alex enjoys traveling (without turbulence) and making a good guacamole. You can learn more about Alex by clicking here!

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