God’s Gift to the Butterfly


In a book written by , David Leininger, we are told a story about a family, who purchased one of those butterfly kits that you can get in the mail.    In case you have never seen these things they are quite common.   Basically, you buy this little clear plastic cage, and set it up somewhere in your hose.

When you have it all set up, you fill out your name and mailing address on a post card and send it to the manufacturer of the cage, and they will send you a pair of butterfly larvae.

After a day or two they will take up residence in your new cage, and together as a family you can watch your butterflies grow.

He tells the story that his family had two cocoons that were about to hatch. As they watched together as a family the saw this incredible ordeal that the first butterfly undertook.   It starts by gnawing a tiny little hole at one end of the gauze like cocoon.   Once the hole has been made the butterfly proceeds to squeeze and push itself through the hole, until it falls completely out.

Now resting on the bottom of the cage, you can almost see the butterfly gasping for breath.   As he or she lays there, they start to flicker more and more as it struggles to kick start its wings.    After what seems like an agonizing long time, the wings slowly start to flap.     After a few minutes it picks up speed and finally flies away.

It is an incredible thing to witness.

Just as the first one hatches the second one starts to move.   The family decides that seeing what that little butterfly must do, they have to find a way to help.

Dad rushes out to his work bench where he grabs an exacto blade, and rushes back inside.

Ever so slowly, the dad cuts a slice down the cocoon.    He is very deliberate and gentle not wanting to hurt the just about to be hatched butterfly.

Slowly the father puts the freed butterfly on the table and watches the butterfly begin the battle with flapping its wings.   Sadly something different happens this time.   This time, the butterfly never seems to figure it out.   After about ten minutes the butterfly dies.

Eventually they turned to a friend who explained why the butterfly died.   He told the family the act of pushing his body through that hole actually serves two purposes.  

First it frees it from its protective shell, and second it sends life to the wings.    Apparently, the wings have long since been developed inside that cocoon, and their lack of use is a problem.   

God however gave the butterfly a solution.

As the butterfly struggles in that moment, the fluids from deep inside the butterfly are actually pushed back in the butterfly’s body.   Eventually they settle into small microscopic capillaries in the butterflies wings.

Its is in the struggle that life takes form in the wings.   The capillaries spring to life, and the wings start beating.   The butterfly takes flight.

Having kept the butterfly from the ordeal of finding release of the cocoon, the family actually kept the butterfly from kick starting his wings.

The author came to a simple but profound conclusion about God’s gift to the butterfly;    Without the Struggle, there are no wings.

As I think on this, I have come to the conclusion that it is not only god’s gift to the butterfly, but to me and you as well.

When we find ourselves hurting, or in the battle of our lives, our tendency is to ask God why.   We say that life isn’t fair.    We want our lives to be as smooth as they appear to be for the person next door.    No matter how we beg or plead, it seems that God has other plans.

I guess I feel like I want to indeed remind you, that you are right;

God has other plans.

Instead of complaining, fighting, begging or pleading, together we need to help eachother remember, that all we do in God’s name, is done to remind us to put our trust in him, and ultimately remember without the struggle there are no wings.

(Dr. Leininger is the author of six books: A Colorblind Church, A God of Justice: A Look at the Ten Commandments in the 21st Century, As We Believe, So We Behave: Living the Apostles’ Creed, and three volumes of Lectionary Tales for the Pulpit)

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