Adult bed bugs are reddish-brown and oval shaped. They grow to be around 4 millimeters in length and 1.5 millimeters wide. I suppose they might grow bigger if they’ve got plenty to eat. And most do.
They are parasitic insects—bloodsuckers to be specific—attracted by carbon dioxide and warmth. That’s why they like to stay near or in beds or couches. It’s because when some nice, succulent body climbs into bed, snuggles under the blankets, gets cozy, and starts breathing heavily, the bed bugs come out to do their business. They feed for about five minutes and then return to their hiding place. And no one is the wiser, at least until the itching starts.
Interestingly, bed bugs weren’t seen as much of an issue up until 1995. Perhaps it was due to standards of cleanliness or maybe because people before ’95 weren’t quite as warm or didn’t dispel as much carbon dioxide, but since then “bed bug awareness” has been on the rise. Strangely, though, hotels and other businesses were slow to acknowledge the pesky critters and take action.
After all, who wants to admit that they have bed bugs? It’s like saying your kid has lice. You don’t want to be “that hotel” any more than you want to be “that parent.”
Now there are entire divisions of pest control companies dedicated to the eradication and prevention of bed bugs. Advisory Web sites for travelers let them know if bed bugs have been spotted in the vicinity. A national survey ranks the most bug-ridden cities. But for several years, there was little done about the issue.
Because bedbugs are so small, and the small usually gets overlooked. When you walk into a hotel, you notice a few things immediately. For example, if you see a chalk outline on the floor of the lobby from a drug deal gone wrong the night before, or a rat making a mad dash across your feet to the hole in the wall, then chances are you’re moving to the Best Western down the street.
Bed bugs, on the other hand, are so small that we assume they’re not worth concerning ourselves with. It’s like we think that the small will just somehow go away; that’s how inconsequential it is. In our minds, we have more important stuff to focus on than issues of things like tiny little insects.
When it comes to the small, we Christians suffer from a paralyzing lack of vision.
The very word itself—vision—makes our minds gravitate toward grandiose pictures. We associate the word with national politics and Fortune 500 companies. We intrinsically link vision with big—so much so that we begin to relegate the “small” to the realm of insignificant and meaningless.
But just ask the hotel managers who have the unfortunate designation of appearing on bed bug watchdog sites whether “small” always means “insignificant.”
It certainly doesn’t where bed bugs are concerned. Nor does the small mean insignificant in the everyday ordinary areas of our regular lives. Because of our obsession with the big, though, most Christians walk around every day feeling absolutely meaningless.
I’m just a mom.
I’m just an accountant.
I’m just a truck driver.
I’m just a teacher.
I’m not sure, but I’m beginning to believe that the word “just” has no “justifiable” place in our vocabulary. That’s because there is no “just” in the body of Christ.
No one is “just” a Sunday school teacher. No one is “just” an offering taker. No one is “just” a bringer of meals to the sick. No one is “just” a deacon. There is no “just.” This is what Paul is getting at in 1 Corinthians 12 where he describes the essential nature of every church member. After employing his metaphor of the human body to describe the church, claiming that every part of the body is important and that no part of the body could or should look down on any other one, he concludes:
“…those parts of the body that are weaker are indispensable. And those parts of the body that we consider less honorable, we clothe these with greater honor, and our unrespectable parts are treated with greater respect, which our respectable parts do not need. Instead, God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the less honorable, so that there would be no division in the body, but that the members would have the same concern for each other” (1 Cor. 12:22-25).
In the same way that the human hand should not say, “I’m just a hand” or the human eye should not say, “I’m just an eye,” so there ought not to be any “justs” in the church.
As you serve this week, Christian, do so not from a posture of “just.” In an ironic way, pray for a larger vision. Pray for the kind of vision that embraces the small. Know that you are as essential in the body of Christ as anyone else.
And as you see others who model this same kind of quiet service, pause and consider for a moment that there is a great King who takes notice of His servant’s faithfulness. This King sees. And He will remember.