If I were a photographer, I would slip outside and click a picture of the little butterfly Jacob chased this morning. He raced around the yard, arms outstretched to the sky. Every time he came close enough to draw his hands together the butterfly fluttered away, or soared out of his reach, only to land gracefully on another blossom.
Slowly, God began stirring my heart. He reminded me of our butterfly house. We raised painted lady butterflies when Joshua was little more than six years old. I remember how the tiny little wormy looking caterpillars slowly grew into stronger caterpillars - five in all - crawling to the top of their little netted house. The six-year-old was watching, anticipating with wide-eyed excitement, checking constantly to see if they were moving on to the next stage. Joshua drew pictures periodically of the caterpillars, made a little book of it, labeling each stage.
Then, the day came. The caterpillars were no longer visible, safely hidden within the chrysalis. We waited and watched. Several times a day, Joshua rushed into the school room to see if anything had become of his little caterpillars. Everyday I reminded him that the caterpillars were indeed still alive, but they were undergoing a transformation....an amazing process that would change them into butterflies.
Finally, one morning, Joshua's voice rang urgently, "Mom, you HAVE to come see this."
And there it was...a butterfly emerging gracefully from the chrysalis. Beautiful wings stretching, filling slowly with fluid, until she could fly. Four of the butterflies emerged that day. The fifth came the next day, not exactly as graceful as the rest. Something was wrong with one of her little wings...it did not look fully developed, making it impossible for her to fly like the rest of the others. Joshua and I watched, waiting, hoping that as time passed her wing would fill with fluid, would open to its full potential and enable the little lady to fly. She became very dear to us.
Three days later, after feeding the butterflies a steady diet of fruit and juices, it was time to release them. We prayed and celebrated...we took the butterfly house outside into the warm sunshine. Joshua ceremoniously unzipped the top and said a somewhat sad goodbye to his friends. All five flew out of the house, lighted on the grass, flew a little way, fought the soft breeze, as if learning something new. Four - the healthy ones, of course - fluttered by Joshua, rested on him a moment and then flew away. It was almost as if they knew him...and they were saying their good-byes too.
The fifth one flew back to Joshua, landed on his hand and stayed for several moments. Then, she flew away again, only to return to his hand. By this time, the rest of our Painted Ladies were out of sight, having slipped away in the wind perhaps drawn by the bright flowers. But this little lady, she had no intention of going. Four times we tried to get her to leave, each time she came back and landed gently on Joshua's hand. And so continued our loving relationship with the broken butterfly.
What seems strange to me is that she recognized her hurt and knew she needed us. She sought refuge with Joshua. She knew from experience that he offered safety and security. I told him that his butterfly would live a small life in the butterfly house, but that it would be good. We brought her flowers from the garden, continued feeding her fruit and juice, gave her water.
This week, for Bible study, we have been studying control. And perhaps that is why God brought this story to my mind. I am so like that broken butterfly...and I have come to understand that brokenness is God's gift. It reminds me of how desperately I need Him...and how adequate He is to meet all my needs. You see, that butterfly KNEW Joshua was a refuge. She somehow understood that Joshua would care for her and meet her needs, keep her in safety. She did not have to fly off on her own and risk hurt. She could choose to stay in the safety of Joshua's care and control. I am no different, I can choose to stay in the safety of God's care and control. His boundaries are not established to keep me caged, but to protect me from the harms of the world. Today, I choose to live like that little beautiful butterfly. I choose to live in the refuge God provides for me! And I know from experience that God will gently lead me...He is good and His provision is always good...and it is always enough!