A U.S. Monument to a Bug
Tuesday - May 5th
Today's Scripture to Read: Romans 8:28-29
The little town of Enterprise, Alabama, erected one of the most unusual monuments ever placed in any public square or park in the United States. The statue of a Greek woman with arms raised above her head, holding a bowl out toward the heavens, stands at the very center of town. In the bowl sits a giant bug - a boll weevil. This bug, native to Mexico, entered the United States in 1892. The boll weevil became the most devastating blow the southern United States' cotton-growing industry would ever experience. The town of Enterprise and the surrounding county of Coffee would see the devastation of its cotton industry begin in 1909. By 1915 the boll weevil was destroying local output of cotton and bringing the whole region's cotton industry to its knees.
The statue's version of the bug weighs just over 50 pounds. The real-life boll weevil is smaller than the tip of an average pinkie finger. This little intruder cost the cotton industry of the late 19th century in the southern U.S. more than 23 billion dollars in damage. Family farms collapsed. The economy of the south dipped back to early post-Civil War levels. Many American historians credit the plight of the boll weevil for causing the great migration of 6 million African-Americans in the late 19th century from farms and plantations of the south to urban areas of the north. The farmers of Enterprise, Alabama, could do nothing to stop the annihilation of the cotton industry in the region.
In 1916, one Enterprise farmer, C.W. Baston, planted peanuts instead of cotton. Farmers in the region had concluded decades earlier that the soil in the area could mass grow nothing other than cotton. Baston had a better crop and made more money on peanuts than he or his father had ever made growing cotton. By 1917, all of the other farmers switched to peanuts. Enterprise and the surrounding area of Coffee County experienced an economic boom, the extent of which the region had never seen when the main crop was cotton. Blessed so much by the arrival of the boll weevil that forced the switch from cotton to peanuts, the town erected the memorial statue. While most American towns celebrate a founder or a war hero with a statue at the center of town, Enterprise has a monument to a bug. One of the great promises of God to us as His children parallels the experience of Enterprise. Romans 8:28 tells us that God works all things together for the good of those He has called into a relationship with Him and who love Him. Things that seem entirely devastating and impossible to be used for our good can and will, over time, produce something good in our lives.
The promise does not always mean personal or financial success, according to the world's perspective. But, it does mean that God will use the good, bad, and ugly of our lives to conform us to the image of His son (Romans 8:29). He will use anything and everything in our lives to mold us and shape us so that we live and love like Jesus more today than we did yesterday. I was introduced to the story of the boll weevil in Enterprise, Alabama, earlier today through a devotional someone shared with me by pastor and author, Chuck Swindoll. While I had planned to illustrate today's text of Romans 8:28-29 with a different story, after reading Swindoll's devotional, I shifted gears. I had to do some research on the Enterprise story.
Swindoll's devotional had a different point than this devotional. Still, it helped put our current battle with COVID-19 into a long-term perspective. No matter how you or your family have been affected by the coronavirus and the economic fallout from it, God will use it for your good. He will use it to change you, me - us. Let's anticipate what God will do even as we navigate through the middle of this season of uncertainty. Our monument that celebrates the radical change God can bring in our lives is not a statue of a boll weevil. It is the image of the cross!
God can and will use anything and everything for our good - that is to make us more like Jesus in how we live and love in our world today!