After a busy few weeks, I took some time off a few days ago and headed to Grand Haven. I was fortunate and found a few hours between rain showers and enjoyed sitting on the sand and listening to the water.

Although I mostly looked at the shoreline and across the lake, at one point a little color caught my eye down near my feet. It looked like a stick painted red at first, but then I noticed it was a stick literally covered in ladybugs. Then another splash of color caught my eye, and I saw a piece of driftwood half covered with ladybugs. It didn’t take long to realize there were thousands of ladybugs, all clumped together—huddled around different objects on the sand. They weren’t moving at all, maybe because they were hunkered down through a passing sprinkle of a shower. But as the sprinkling stopped, I noticed they all began to move, all at the same time. I didn’t stay long enough to see what they were going to do next, but I was amazed at the level of their coordination.

It struck me that even creatures with such a limited intelligence as ladybugs can still act efficiently on their God-given instinct to work together. Of course, we humans have that same instinct and much more. We have even been given a godlike level of intelligence (read the story of the Tower of Babel in Genesis chapter 11 if you think I’m exaggerating), and with it we have cooperated to achieve amazing things. In 1969, when we still dialed numbers using a dial, before the dawn of the remote control, and when we measured computers by the hundreds of square feet they took up, we gathered our intelligence and abilities and sent twelve men to the moon and back. So as a race, we are quite capable of amazing things when we follow our instinct and intelligence to cooperate.

That being said, we should acknowledge how rarely we act with even the level of coordination of ladybugs. Too often we are in constant critique mode, judging others, jockeying for power, striking out on our own in frustration with the group, which never seems to see things as clearly as we do. Our little red, black polka-dotted friends have a lot to teach us. Like them, we were made to be part of communities and in fact, cannot find personal fulfillment outside of them. Our modern sensibilities with the ”iEverything” would have us believe that this type of community living is stifling and unfulfilling. In reality, we were made to live with a much higher sense of community than ladybugs.

So the next time we’re tempted to see ourselves as isolated individuals instead of community members, let’s pause for a moment and remember the ladybugs. They may just end up being the teachers we need to demonstrate the obedience, humility, and patience required to enter the Kingdom of God.