Remember the mysterious 7-mile wide blob on Denver’s weather radar in the fall of 2018 that began this nature series? It turned out to be painted lady butterflies invading Colorado in never-before-seen numbers. That post led to my summer-long series about artist/naturalists and suggestions for how to study nature in our own neighborhoods.
Now let’s come back to the butterflies and the ultimate artist/naturalist—God. With unbelievable creativity, wisdom, and power, He created all that exists and continues to uphold and preserve His creation. He designed painted lady butterflies with their intricate patterns of orange and black and gave them the instinct to head south when autumn winds blow.
Among several posters I always kept up in my classroom was one of a little boy holding a fuzzy yellow duckling and gazing intently at it. The Bible verse said, “Stand still and consider the wondrous works of God.” Job 37:14
That’s just what Molly and I have been doing. We stood still to watch hundreds of butterflies fluttering on the same bush and lone bumblebees gathering nectar on a single flower. We saw red-winged blackbirds land on thin cattails, hardly bending them, and goldfinches plucking seeds from thistle flowers without getting hurt.
In early summer I considered that both swallows and red-winged blackbirds eat insects, but swallows soar through the air to catch flying insects, while red-winged blackbirds hop along the ground to find their insect lunches. God has truly provided for all the birds of the air. Matt. 6: 26
All summer I’ve considered how perfectly these wondrous works point to our Creator God. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” Romans 1:20
God is also the ultimate author/teacher, and His Word clearly shows us that our Creator God is also our loving Heavenly Father, who cares for our daily needs and especially sent His Son to die for us so we may become new creatures in Christ, (2 Cor. 5:17) loving God and trying to live our lives for Him.
God knows that we need concrete pictures to learn spiritual lessons (just look at the lowly things Jesus used in His parables!)
So it’s not at all strange for Christian writers and artists to use the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly to illustrate the new creatures we become in Christ.When the Holy Spirit gives us a new heart to believe in Christ, we are newly dressed in Christ’s righteousness, and just as butterflies receive new compound eyes that see much better than caterpillar eyes, our eyes are opened to see the beauty of Christ and to want to know Him and live for Him more and more.
Through science we can now see just how apt an illustration metamorphosis is. The latest research shows that the changes are even more profound than once thought. Inside its pupa the parts of the caterpillar actually liquefy and rearrange to become a butterfly.
So I think we can see that this transformation of the butterfly not only helps us appreciate what God does initially to change us, but is also a wonderful illustration of what will happen when Christ returns for His people. As Paul explains,
Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must cloth itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” I Cor. 15:51-54
In that day the miracle of people being transformed from the perishable to the imperishable will way, way outdo even the marvel of butterfly metamorphosis, and when people from every tribe and nation are caught up in the air with their changed bodies to meet Christ and live with Him forever, that will outnumber the greatest butterfly migrations ever!
Hallelujah, What a Savior!!
I’m taking a short break to finish up a proposal for a book of devotions and activities for families, but be sure to sign up to receive these posts so you don’t miss out on the next art subject — What’s up with Claude Monet and all those paintings of haystacks and cathedrals??