Life: A Butterfly Journey
Written By: Chris Mace
Butterflies are beautiful creatures, but their midair fluttering and apparent irregular, undirected courses beg the question of why they don’t just make a bee line to their destination? (Probably because they are not bees!) However, their erratic flying makes it difficult for predators to pick them out of the air!
Their flight pattern is metaphorical for life which is not a linear coarse. Although we do move from the past to the future and progress from physical beginnings to physical endings over which we have little to no say, our journeys are disorganized and frequently dysfunctional or even chaotic as we deal with limitations, vulnerabilities, uncertainties, disappointments, and setbacks.
Because our circumstances and characters have inbuilt fallibilities, our reasoning may be faulty, our desires impure, our dreams and self-estimations unrealistic, our coping skills poor, and our circumstances challenging or even overwhelming. These weaknesses often preoccupy us or distract us from life’s grander meaning and purposes.
We need reminders, redirection, or a greater than human wisdom when we flutter off course. Just as the butterfly benefits from its zig zagging flittering, our vulnerabilities are distracting but need not be a waste of time! Personal interests, moral side excursions, disappointments, adversity, and even suffering and pain are opportunities for learning about ourselves, for finding God in the circumstances, for expanding our understanding of the world which we are navigating, for transformation and maturing, for learning humility and empathy for others, for achieving confidence and courage,
Wise, old King Solomon said that the “beginning of wisdom” is fear or reverence for God; the implication is that gaining some understanding of God and who He created us to be will orient us to the meaning of life and how to handle it. James tells us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5)
Scripture does that. It course corrects us into recovery and spiritual equilibrium. “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple…” (Psalm 19:7) Jeremiah’s message to God’s people was to “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.” (Jeremiah 6:16) Speaking through Isaiah, God, the Redeemer and the Holy One of Israel told His people: “I am the Lord your God, …who leads you in the way you should go. Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea; “ (Isaiah 48:17-18)
The Books of Proverbs and Psalms are filled with expressions of God’s kindness, His mercy and grace, and His wisdom for faithful living: “The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand.” (Psalm 37:23-24) “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) “He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” (Psalm 23:3)
God is present – refreshing our spirits, giving peace to our hearts, and bringing good out of our difficulties when we trust Him to do so. He is the great Redeemer of situations and souls and is completing His work in us as he restores us to who we are meant to be. (Philippians 1:6)( Romans 8:38-39).
The most amazing thing about the Monarch butterfly is that despite its erratic flight pattern, it makes a courageous and dramatic flight to its finish, migrating purposely from the Eastern US to Mexico on a 2 to 3 thousand miles jaunt! What a symbol of perseverance and great hope! Despite missteps, we can live confident of our ultimate destination when we falteringly persist in faith. Christ defeated death and promised that those who believe will never die but have everlasting life. (John 11:25)
James knew that the journey into faith is rough and irregular. He said that “…whenever you face trials of many kinds, …know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4). Essentially he said to hang in there. Perseverance is key. It will be worth it all.
In 1941, Esther Rusthoi wrote the hymn “It Will Be Worth It All.” The refrain expresses the Christian’s “hope”:
It will be worth it all/ when we see Jesus/ Life’s trials will seem so small/when we see Christ/ One glimpse of his dear face/All sorrow will erase/ So, bravely run the race/ ’til we see Christ.”