Aren’t fireflies amazing? There seems to be an unwritten law that fireflies need to be chased. Watching children point, jump, twirl and laugh as they pursue these flying miracles brings warmth to even the coldest heart. The moonlight “firefly dance” is so contagious that I have been moved to join my children in this dance on more than one occasion.
The funny thing is that in times past when I actually caught one of these little miracles for my small children, they were afraid to hold it. Isn’t that just like life? How many times have I exhausted myself chasing something, and then when I actually caught it, fear entered the picture and I did’t know what to do next.
There also seems to be an unwritten rule that fireflies do not exist for bottles, they were meant to soar. I remember asking my kids once if they wanted to save some of the fireflies in a jar. Almost in unison they replied, “No daddy, the fireflies wouldn’t be happy in a jar. They need to fly and make light.”
So how do fireflies make light? Firefly abdomens contain cells that make an enzyme called luciferase which catalyzes a chemical reaction that produces light. Luciferase obtains energy from adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to catalyze the reaction of luciferin and oxygen (O2) to produce oxyluciferin and light (see image). Fireflies obtain the oxygen for this reaction from a tube in their abdomen called an abdominal trachea. Fireflies are thought to use their light to attract mates and to warn predators that they taste really bad (I hope that these interesting facts will equip you the next time that a child, or a friend asks you to explain how God engineered these wonderful insects).
As I was thinking about these amazing facts, the thought occurred to me that even though God did not equip our abdomens with luciferase, He did design us to make light. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12, NIV) Jesus also said that our faith should be visible. He said, “Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:15-16, NIV)
So how full of light are we? Do we glow in the moonlight like God’s fireflies? Let’s ask God to make us bioluminescent in a dark world that desperately needs light, love and liberty from sin. The world needs more “firefly dancers” for Christ.