|Photo by SFAJane 2010|
Saturday, May 20, 2017
One lovely morning, my husband Richard was reading aloud from our daily devotionals as we sipped coffee on our lanai overlooking the woods.
Out of the corner of my eye I spotted a pale gold butterfly, delicately traced with black veining and borders, bejeweled with dots of sapphire and ruby. It drifted past my gaze and then soared upward on the breeze.
“Look!” I exclaimed. “A beautiful butterfly!”
“That?” Richard asked doubtfully, pointing at what appeared to be a dried leaf suspended from a twig.
I realized that the swallowtail butterfly I had spotted was no longer in our field of vision, apparently having caught a wind current lifting it gently toward the heavens before Richard could see it. What he was viewing was indeed a butterfly, albeit a dark, shriveled creature suspended on a nearby bush. Was it dead?
It was hanging from a twig, caught in thin strands of silk. We couldn’t see a fully formed web, so we weren’t sure if it was trapped by a spider beyond our view, or if it was a newborn butterfly just having emerged from its chrysalis. At least now there were signs of life – faint, intermittent pulsating of its wings. Was it in the throes of death, or struggling for new life?
Intermittent glances at the butterfly as we continued our readings did not shed light on the situation, but finally, after a few arduous beats of its wings, it flew away! I imagined that perhaps it had joined the butterfly I had seen earlier, both elevated to lofty heights, together enjoying the freedom of flight.
Far from coincidentally, our selection of morning readings had touched on being elevated to heavenly places with Christ (Ephesians 1:3; 2:6), on being born again (John 3:3-8), and on the dangers of falling prey to subtle sins that can ensnare us and keep us from soaring upward with our Lord and Savior (Hebrews 12:1).
To me, the first butterfly epitomized the joy, beauty and liberty of salvation (Psalm 21:1; 35:9) through trusting in Jesus Christ, Son of God Who died for our sins, was buried, and rose again on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). When we are saved and in His perfect will, the Holy Spirit empowers us to soar with Him on the heavenly mission He has designed specifically for us (Ephesians 2:10).
We are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) in all details, and God created the human eye to be attracted to movement, pattern and color. Just as I quickly noticed and was uplifted by the colorful butterfly darting past me, so our spirits are attracted to the believer who is not only saved, but who is fulfilling God’s perfect plan for their life (Jeremiah 29:11). There is an inner beauty, purpose, and freedom in such a soul that acts as a beacon to all who are blessed to encounter them (Matthew 5:14-16).
But the soaring butterfly was once a lowly caterpillar, and the born-again believer emerged from a despairing sinner realizing their need of a Savior. The encumbered butterfly, which could have been in the final stages of metamorphosis, reminded me that only the Spirit can lift the sinner from the pain and darkness in the pit of sin to the healing and light of salvation (Psalm 30:3; 40:2; 143:7).
Like metamorphosis, the process of salvation is not instantaneous or painless. It occurs over time as the sinner hears the Word (Romans 10:14) and is convicted of his own sin, lack of merit, and inability to save himself from the eternal punishment in hell that his sins deserve (Ephesians 2:8-9). Meanwhile, the Spirit works in the heart to save him through processes unknown to us (Ecclesiastes 11:5).
Or was the second butterfly caught in a spider’s web, struggling against the odds to be set free? Even once we are saved, we can easily fall prey to Satan’s traps and to the sins that so easily entangle us (Hebrews 12:1). On casual glance, these may seem innocent enough, and even attractive, like silky strands of web shimmering in the sunlight. But if we let down our guard, we are so easily trapped (1 Peter 5:8), not to lose our salvation, but to lose the joy and freedom of fulfilling God’s purpose for us.
Thankfully, there can be release and restoration, just as there was for the butterfly that may have been freed from the spider’s web. If we confess our sins, God is faithful to forgive us (1 John 1:9) and will renew our fellowship with Him, so that we can wait upon Him to lift us up as on eagle’s wings! (Isaiah 40:31)
May we soar freely with Him, born again as the caterpillar to new life as the butterfly, and restored to heavenly places when He forgives us of our confessed sins!
© 2017 Laurie Collett