Last Saturday was one of those beautiful days we hold out for in north Texas. I call it a transition day because it’s between the heatwave of summer and the deep-freeze of winter. My workday began at 6:00 with a light jacket. By 8:00 the jacket came off. The shirt sleeves were rolled up shortly thereafter. A front had moved through on Thursday dropping some much-needed rain. The sky was pure blue with a slight north breeze.
I was working on the dock for a few hours when hunger pulled me outside to eat a sandwich in my van. I mixed my dried tea in a bottle of water and lifted my meal out of the lunch box. As much as I wanted to I couldn’t justify taking my workday off to enjoy it in nature, so God brought the nature to me. When I looked out the windshield while parked in the employee lot I saw my favorite bug.
Dozens of Monarch butterflies flitted in the same south-by-southwest direction. Many of these delicate creatures began their trek in Canada, but they weren’t stopping in Texas. Nope, their destination was south of the border in Mexico.
Each of these orange, black and white bugs was homing in on a chunk of trees they’d never been to. The only explanation I can come up with as to why they knew where to go to spend the winter was God told them to go there.
I empathize with these critters. My writing feels like much the same journey, except, I don’t know exactly where its going to end up, or where I’m going to end up with it. I only know God told me to do it so I’m obeying my Creator.
Most weeks I can count the number of folks who read my blog on one hand as near as I can track such numbers. That could frustrate me to no end if I let it. Those numbers won’t quite excite a potential publisher who might think about taking on one or more of my books.
If I only looked at the short-term prognosis I’d probably quit this insanity of writing. I know God too well to dwell on anything less than eternity in anything I do, especially anything I do for Him. To me blogging is like tithing my writing to God. He gets the first fruits. He’ll bless back in His own unique way.
Even though these bugs were flying in the same direction they were all flying solo. Yeah, just like writers.
Occasionally they’d bump into another of their kind and spin together toward the sky. I think it’s their version of dancing. We writers aren’t known for dancing when we come together, at least not the ones I’ve bumped into, but we do feel a kinship when we’re in the same vicinity. That’s why we look forward to conferences and critique groups.
In the early afternoon I had to wait for my trailer to get loaded so I observed more of these butterflies named after royalty. I noticed the ones that flew closer to the ground flapped their wings more than the ones who floated across the sky. There was one that never flapped its wings while I watched it ride the thermals and the north breeze. The ones who flew closer to God took advantage of His power to get to their destination with less effort. I’ll do my best to follow their example.
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As a teenager in Michigan I took advantage of living with these bugs to get to know them better. I actually raised some of them in a jar. No, I didn’t fear them flying out of the container at all because they didn’t have wings at that stage of their growth. Let me explain.
When the milkweeds sprung up I looked at their leaves. I searched for the ones that had chunks missing from them. There are only two bugs that do that damage to a milkweed. Both of them are caterpillars. I wasn’t interested in the ones with spiked hair poking all over the place. I think those become moths.
I wanted to find the yellow, black and white striped, smooth skinned worms. When I found one I’d carefully break the leaf off it used for food. After I gently carried it into the house I’d place it in a clean glass jar. I’d poke some holes in the metal lid so air could get in and the bug wouldn’t be able to crawl out.
At that point all I had to do was make sure a fresh leaf was available for my friend. The bug had one mission: eat as much of that plant as possible. It didn’t care if it was outside or in a person’s house. At first the only thing that happened was the worm got bigger, as did the pile of green droppings in the bottom of the jar.
Then the strangest thing occurred. The worm stopped eating and crawled to the highest point it could find, usually on the lid. The two back feet would latch onto the lid as webbing, much like a spider’s, would spin out from somewhere. When the web reached past the feet another strange event took place.
That caterpillar skin began to pull loose as the webbing turned green. I sat and watched for an hour as the chrysalis formed in the outline of a butterfly. As the process completed the caterpillar would repent of its old skin and drop it off. The chrysalis remained motionless for days.
I got excited when the green coffin turned black, and then translucent. I knew that old caterpillar was about to emerge. The bug that now appeared different would fight to break free from its confinement. I’ve heard of people carefully cutting the critter free only to have it die.
When that butterfly comes out it isn’t the majestic beauty it’s designed to be, yet. At first the body is large and the wings are small. That tiny heart that fought to break free is now strong enough to pull the blood out of the body into the wings. It takes a few hours before the butterfly can fly.
There are so many similarities to the Christian life here. Before someone becomes a Christ-follower they’re crawling around only interested in their own needs being met. When they give God control of their life they must repent of their old life and sins to become what God intends for them to become.
The changes are often dramatic, yet gradual. A new Christian will likely want to cling to their old habits. Given time the new self emerges as the Holy Spirit does His work. Time spent in the Bible and with other Christians make the believer more like Jesus every day.
Eventually we’ll all fly to heaven. When God calls us Home.
If you’re tired of just feeding your desires and making a mess give Your life to Jesus. He died for you so you can fly to Glory, too.
Keep smiling. Wade