Much has been said about great things and even miracles stimulating faith in God. But for many even great blessings didn’t move people towards life changing faith. Many Israelis didn’t let even the miracles of the Exodus or the Lord’s miracles change their on going lives. But God who delights to use weak and foolish things (1 Cor 1:27) used bugs to stimulate my faith.
For most, bugs are either trifling or annoying things. But as boys, we all liked bugs! How much fun we had getting earthworms and scaring the girls with them. Worms are only the beginning of interest in bugs for kids. I remember the fun of catching lightening bugs and putting them into a jar, collecting beautiful butterflies and stirring up anthills to see them run. One time, I was having my delight with a night crawler in getting one girl after another to squeal and screen, when Sammy got of a hero impulse. He knocked the worm from my hand and squashed it with a triumphant stomp. How memories linger for even many years. I guess that is a bugging memory!
Years later, when I got to Vietnam as an Army Chaplain, bugs were entirely different to all of us. I didn't go there to collect lightning bugs. I went there to catch men for the Lord Jesus. I didn't want to put them into a jar, but to get them to go to Heaven and to shine for their Savior if the Lord gave them long life. Strange as it may seem, sometimes faith has bigger battles with small things than with great things, like one’s life. But God can use all things for enriching our lives, for me even bugs! When we needed it most, the Lord will use even irritating, scary and hurting things to help shape our character to be like the Lord Jesus (Rom 8:28, 29). However, He especially does this when we love Him enough to trust Him when we are threatened with harm or temptation (James 1:2–4).
As soldiers, we were alerted that bugs could not only hurt us, but cause us to get sick and die! For decades armies had to fight head lice, this was one reason recruit’s heads are shaved. The Army medics gave us pills to keep us from getting malaria from mosquito bites. Because they could upset our stomachs, if these pills were not taken with food, some soldiers didn't take them and got malaria.
Therefore, the men tended to hate bugs, especially scorpions. I saw one soldier catch a scorpion. It was huge, about 6 inches long. Apparently he had been stung by one earlier and experienced the fire of its sting. He captured it with his helmet and decided to get revenge by making it sting itself to death. He had heard they would sting themselves when threatened by fire. Therefore, he squirted lighter fluid around it and set the fluid on fire. Unfortunately, his effort didn't work because he had dripped some of the lighter fluid on the scorpion so that it died by fire not by stinging itself.
The bug that inspired my faith was by a 5 to 6 inch centipede. This happened the first night I went to a field location. I did all the "official precautions" about buttoning up all the openings of my fatigues and carefully putting insect repellent on my sleeves and where my fatigue shirt buttoned. Alas, I had forgotten Job’s lament: "For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me . ." (Job 3:25). I hadn't turned my fear of tropical bugs into trusting the Lord about them. So the Lord sent this sanctified centipede between the buttoned up shirt at my waistline. Even though I grabbed it through my shirt on my left side, I didn't have a good enough hold on it to crush it. As I held it with my left hand, it stung me. So I yelled to my Chaplain's Assistant to get something to kill the centipede when I opened my shirt and let it go. All he could find was a partially empty beer can left in the squad tent. As I released this centipede it raced across my bare chest and off the cot. My assistant tried to hit it with the beer can, but missed, slopping beer over me.
As I laid on my cot, embarrassed clear down to my toes, I said to the Lord: "Well, I guess I will just have to trust you about the bugs!" From then on, I had no fear nor bug trouble for the rest of the year that I was in Viet Nam, nor did I get malaria. For I learned to conquer my fears with the Scripture verse: "What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee." (Psalm 56:3).
I found even greater application of this verse in the remaining 50 weeks that I was with the 1/27th Infantry Battalion. Because I learned to trust the Lord, I was delivered from many battle experiences where others were killed. When I exercised faith instead of fear in the small thing of bugs, the Lord honored my faith in life threatening combat.