God has left more than His fingerprints on the beautiful world He created. He filled creation with messages that reach into our spirits at unexpected moments. I have had a Chickadee land on my head for a few seconds while his mate two feet away looked me up and down.
Another time I observed a big green worm, sporting multiple black bristles with orange dots on the ends, transform into a chrysalis. I was able to nurture it through the winter. In June the metamorphosis was complete, and a beautiful swallowtail butterfly emerged. When I first saw the dried chrysalis, I cried out, thinking it had died. As I bent over the chrysalis mourning the loss, I had the strangest feeling that something was watching me. I froze. Glancing to my right, I saw "another" butterfly, wings folded, hanging on the end of the twig the chrysalis was attached to. It took me awhile to realize the butterfly was "my" butterfly. Suspended in time (probably no more than a few seconds), the butterfly and I had eye contact. It was as if we connected in some strange way. His huge eyes were so bright and luminous with the life of God in him.
The next morning I watched as the butterfly attempted to fly. Each time he would flop back to the floor of the patio, wings outstretched to soak up the early morning sun. With each attempt he managed to gain more height and more strength in his wings. He flew out into the open air and sought to gain his bearings. I thought it would be the last time I saw him as he started to go upward and over the house. Instead he came directly back to where I stood on the covered patio and hovered within inches of my face a brief time and then flew over the house.
From time to time during the summer I would see a butterfly enter my flower garden. It would always fly up close to my face and then be off. Most butterflies do not get close to us. I told myself it was "him," and for several years I would encounter a butterfly that always flew up to my face. Then at one sighting I noticed that his wings were large and the color faded. With sadness I thought it would be our last meeting. One day as I rounded the corner of the house, there lay a swallowtail butterfly in the driveway, wings spread out. As I gently picked it up, I could see that the light, the breath of life, had gone out of the eyes. I treasure this butterfly as one of those special gifts God gives to His children. I have the chrysalis and the butterfly in a shadow box, one of my most treasured nature possessions. I can rarely share this with anyone. How many people do you know who have had eye contact with a butterfly?
So what was God's message to me through this gift? At the time I had gone through a lot of inner healing. I had realized that I had been called to help people come into a closer and more intimate relationship with Jesus. This call included prayer ministry for the wounded. Following that course has met with struggle and roadblocks, which add up to heartache at times. The effort to be accepted by a local church and minister has been disappointing. In my attempt to complete an internship I was used by someone for financial gain and was dismissed before I could enter the program. Somehow I managed to land on my feet and keep moving, although sometimes I wonder if I have heard God accurately. At the age of 70 I wonder how much time is left. Seeing the butterfly with all its ups and downs of surviving the winter and its struggle to fly seemed to speak into my life and my struggle. The creature's resting in the sunlight to gain strength to fly reminded me of my need to rest in God's presence to receive His strength to "fly."
The butterfly taught me other lessons as well. How can a lime-green worm with orange dots on his bristles transform into a chrysalis? The worm was hanging on the underside of the twig, looking as if it were starting to dehydrate. I felt bad for keeping it in the house too long. When I went to dispose of it, it had completely transformed into the chrysalis hanging from the twig by two silk threads. The case was rather opaque and a dull green color, totally different from the green worm in texture, size and shape.
As the winter wore on, it began to change and take on a light brown color; thus I thought it had died. But checking on it later, I found it becoming translucent. With time the outer shell became like parchment, and once again I thought it was dead.
As spring approached, I noticed there was still life in the chrysalis as what looked like the bars on the wings of a butterfly began to show. Because I had just taken a job at the Christian bookstore when it was time for the chrysalis to open, I missed the birthing process. But I knew that exiting the chrysalis requires a struggle, and there can be no assistance or the butterfly dies. It forms sugar for energy during that struggle to emerge. I see this principle in my own struggle to grow in ministry. There was no one to help. If there had been, I would have been shaped by man and not by the Holy Spirit. I would not be as strong as I am today.
After the emergence of the butterfly, the markings of the bars of the wings remained on the empty chrysalis for several months. With time they have faded away. It makes me wonder what kind of energy (for lack of a better word) is involved in the transformation that the image of the bars remains, only to fade away with time? What miraculous powers are at work to transform a green worm into a chrysalis that continues to transform into a butterfly within the casing? As far as I know scientists have not been able to explain or understand the process of metamorphosis. 'Tis a mystery! And a miracle!
This story pictures death and life for the Christian, death of the old self and transformation into the new, true self in Christ at our rebirth. So many times I thought the worm had died; yet life was still working on the inside, transforming the worm. In the same way we may feel as if we have died (slipped into sin or backslidden) or have been set on the back burner, and it's all over. Yet all the while the Spirit of God is quietly at work, unseen, transforming us into the persons He created us to be.
--from a previous Wheaton MPCS attendee