Lord of the Cockroaches

The battle had escalated to a point of no return…for either side. The officer in charge of our derisory platoon, Steve the plumber, had retreated to a safe place—away from the line of fire. When he arrived safely in his vehicle, Steve filled his lungs with a fresh air no longer tainted with the fumes of chemical warfare. Steve’s first contact with the enemy was an ordeal; Brad and I knew Steve would clash with this traumatic tribulation for the rest of his existence. Brad and I were all that remained. We couldn’t retreat…we had to stand firm and fight…even if it meant sacrificing our lives for the cause. We had to clear out the tunnel so the trained experts could move in, repair the damage to the water pipes, and provide clean water for the middle school students of Hamilton County.

The pipes in the tunnel had been leaking for months. After some misguided thinking, the powers that be decided some cardboard on the floor of the tunnel was a brilliant idea, thereby providing the perfect covering for our enemy. We decided to begin with a little “Shock and Awe” and bombed them repeatedly; they just hid under their cardboard and ridiculed our meager attempts with jovial laughter. The fumes filled the tunnel and the small classroom that provided the entryway into their domain. Steve went down to check on the success of our “Shock and Awe” only to scream and retreat to his van abandoning his platoon. He left us with one mission and one mission only: scrape the cardboard away with a 2×4, immobilize the enemy with a paralyzing chemical, and then annihilate each one individually with the small sledge.

“Clear the tunnel!” commanded Steve as he grabbed his roast beef sandwich and tuned his radio to Rush Limbaugh.

We left Steve to rot his brain and trudged back to the front lines.

“Go ahead,” said Brad, handing me a can of Raid Ant and Roach Killer spray, a two-pound sledgehammer, and a four-foot long 2×4. “May God be with you!”

I lowered myself into the darkness, turned on the lantern, and waited for my eyes to adjust. I giggled to myself and low-crawled to the end of the tunnel. I could hear the enemy scampering underneath their soggy protection.

“You will soon meet your demise my little friends.” I whispered and then chortled to myself.

I could hear Brad laughing hysterically in the classroom above as the fumes continued to permeate his lungs and his mind. His footsteps were thunderous on the ceiling of the tunnel; I knew he was slow dancing with the skeleton model. I just smiled and prepared my waning sanity for the impending onslaught. When I reached the end of the tunnel, I placed the 2×4 flat against the wall and pushed down…scrapping away a few inches of the cardboard. With the spray and the hammer easily accessible to my right hand, I took a deep breath, focused my few remaining functional brain cells onto the task at hand and scrapped away two feet of the enemy’s protective cardboard shield.

They all attacked at once! They scampered, they scurried, they scuttled…coordinating their strike. One cockroach the size of a Volkswagen—obviously the leader—fixed his beady eyes straight into my soul. He reared back and advanced furiously in my direction. Fear swelled up inside of me, but didn’t cripple me. My courage overcame my fears; I grabbed my first weapon and sprayed him directly in his eyes!

“DIE, DIE, DIE!” I yelled as the tunnel filled with fumes. My visibility was temporarily impaired, until suddenly he slowly appeared—marching out of the fog. The slogan on the roach spray read, “Kills on Contact.” The advertisers couldn’t have been MORE wrong. They weren’t dead…not in the least. The leader’s mobility had lost its intensity, but he was still pressing on. I grabbed my hammer. “DIE, DIE, DIE!” I yelled as I obliterated the enemy…first, the leader…then his faithful platoon. The battle had been won; however, the war was far from over. I repeated the mode of attack: scrape away their protective covering, spray to immobilize them, and then destroy them with my sledge. It was crude, but effective.

“I AM THE LORD OF THE COCKROACHES!” I cried out in a savage, Lord of the Flies demeanor. I then cackled and threw back my head bashing it into the tunnel’s ceiling. I fell to the floor of the tunnel as several working brain cells died instantly. The sound of Brad dancing with his fleshless dance partner continued to resound from above.

When I came to my wits, I realized that I wasn’t lord of the cockroaches. Even a tiny insect would not submit to my will. If I was lord of anything that day, it was my own stupidity.

God’s goal in Egypt was to prove to Pharaoh, the Egyptians, and even His own people that he was not only the Lord of the flies, the gnats, the frogs, and the cockroaches, but he was the lord over all the Earth. After the plague of frogs, God sent a plague of gnats, flies, disease on the Egyptian livestock, and boils. God had already proven to the Egyptians and the doubting Israelites that he was their only source for sustenance, protection, and healing. For the seventh, eighth, and ninth plagues, God took on Pharaoh and the Egyptian pantheon by proving he was the Lord over the weather, Lord over fertility, and Lord over the sun. Before sending hail and lightning, God said:

“Let my people go, so that they may worship me, or this time I will send the full force of my plagues against you and against your officials and your people, so you may know that there is no one like me in all the earth. For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the earth. But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”

—Exodus 9:13-16

Jesus proved his Lordship over these same things when he walked on the earth. He turned water into wine, healed the sick and diseased, and controlled the weather. God pointed it out to Pharaoh when he said, “There is no one like me in all the earth.” Jesus claimed to be this same authoritative God…a God that is incomparable and possesses ultimate authority over all.

“Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.”

—John 14:10-11

“Believe on the evidence of the works themselves.”

When Jesus miraculously filled Peter’s fishing nets with fish, Peter responded by saying, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:8). When God sent hail and lightning upon the Egyptian countryside, Pharaoh exclaimed, “This time I have sinned. The LORD is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong.” Sometimes when we encounter the mighty works of Christ and truly witness his Lordship over all, it brings us to our knees in repentance. Repentance, unfortunately, isn’t the end-all and be-all.

Pharaoh repented and recognized God’s Lordship, but he didn’t fully submit to God. He eventually hardened his heart and jumped right back into the fumes of sin. Pharaoh knew he had to submit, but he just couldn’t humble himself enough to do it. Peter also didn’t quite grasp the full purpose of Christ that day on the Sea of Galilee. He may have recognized his insignificance in the presence of the Almighty, but he didn’t fully submit to Jesus’ Lordship. In fact, Peter didn’t fully submit to Christ until Pentecost.

Recognizing Jesus as Lord and repentance is only the beginning of a wonderful journey. Submission to Christ’s Lordship over your life—embracing the reality that we are not the lord of anything…be that our finances, our careers, our families, or even the cockroaches—is far more difficult than recognizing the power and authority that Jesus has over our sins. Submitting to Jesus’ Lordship is handing over ANY power we think we have to Jesus…and letting Jesus manage our life entirely.

Embracing Jesus as my Savior is simple and comforting.

Embracing Jesus as my Lord is a daily struggle.

I just pray I have enough brain cells left to fully submit to Jesus as my Lord and denounce my claim to the throne as the lord of anything…including those blasted cockroaches.

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