THE BUTTERFLY AND THE REFORMATION

THE BUTTERFLY AND THE REFORMATION

A number of years ago, we visited the Butterfly Farm on Grand Cayman Island as an excursion from our cruise ship.  I saw the name “Butterfly Farm” and, being the literalist, saw long rows of planted butterflies.  At first I thought it was a joke, but finding out that it was a legitimate, informative place, we decided to go on the tour.

It was a wonderful time and we learned a great deal about these small animals.  Hurricane Ivan had passed across the island, causing severe destruction.  As we learned during our tour, one of the significant casualties was the butterfly population.  Essentially, the butterflies were blown out to sea by the force of the hurricane.  While this might not seem like a big deal at first, it is huge inasmuch as butterflies pollinate plants, just as bees do; therefore, we/humans need butterflies for food propagation.

Beautiful butterfly
Beautiful butterfly

Therefore, a “butterfly farm” was established to repopulate the butterflies on the island.  The “building” was essentially a mesh wall with a mesh roof, into which were planted shrubs, flowers, trees and grasses that would provide the food and shelter.  Butterflies were brought in from other areas of the world and placed in this protected environment.  When they were ready and in sufficient numbers, the roof would come off and they could be released into the area.

Butterflies - getting to know you!
Butterflies – getting to know you!

Of course, the butterflies were more than willing to work toward repopulation.  While we were there we saw these two butterflies doing their part to assist in the growth of the island’s butterfly community.  The pictures in this post were taken by my husband, but most of the scientific information that is included came from the website for The Butterfly Farm on St. Maartin, found at: http://www.thebutterflyfarm.com.

Butterflies are a type of insect.  They belong to the order of insects called Lepidoptera, which means “scaly wings”.  The butterfly’s life cycle is made up of four stages, each of which are unique and very different from each other.  This process is called metamorphosis which means “change of form.”  First, the butterfly starts as an egg.  After about a week, the egg hatches and a tiny caterpillar emerges.  The caterpillar eats and gets bigger and bigger, ultimately shedding its skin 4 to 6 times.   Here is a picture of a leaf at the Butterfly Farm on which a caterpillar has attached itself.

Caterpillar on a leaf
Caterpillar on a leaf

After 2 to 4 weeks, the caterpillar will be full grown and it then transforms itself into a chrysalis/ or pupa.  It hangs from a tree or bush, appearing to be doing nothing, but inside the caterpillar’s body becomes the adult structure of the butterfly.  This stage takes 10 to 15 days.

Then, the former caterpillar emerges as a beautiful butterfly.

Butterfly - stained glass
Butterfly – stained glass

But that emergence did not come easily … the insect has to struggle inside the cocoon, pushing against the sides before ultimately breaking through into the sunlight.

Butterfly having some strawberry lunch
Butterfly having some strawberry lunch

If the cocoon is cut so that the butterfly can emerge without struggle, the butterfly is doomed to live on land, unable to fly.  Getting out of the cocoon the easy way costs the butterfly the opportunity to soar.  It is the struggle to escape the cocoon that allows its wings to strengthen so that, after the struggle, flight is possible.

In other words, it is in the struggle itself that strength is born.

This week is Reformation Week – a time of remembering October 31, 1517, the day that Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses to the castle church door in Wittenberg, Germany.  The debate that arose out of this action culminated in what is now called the Protestant Reformation.

One of the primary teachings of the Reformation is that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.  Good works do not constitute any basis for our right standing before God; rather, our good works are the result of and the witness to our faith in Christ.  Ephesians 2:8-10.

Justification, God’s declaration that we are not guilty, that we are forgiven of our sin, and that we have righteousness in His sight comes to us because through our faith alone the Father imputes to us, or reckons to our account, the perfect righteousness of Christ.  2 Corinthians 5:21.

In other words, the Reformation’s call is that the just shall live by faith alone, in Christ alone.

Being justified, however, is not the end of the question.  There is a responsibility to live a Christ-centered life when we are justified by His sacrifice.  Paul says we are new creatures when we have yielded our lives to Christ.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

2 Corinthians 5:17.

Elaborating on this statement, Paul says in Ephesians 4:22-24 that we are to:

“put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Even though we may not like hearing the message, we too are to put off the old self.  This is a struggle, but we need to recognize that it is in the struggle that we are strengthened. We may lose some of the battles but, even if we lose the round, at the end of the day we are stronger than we were before the struggle began.

I don’t know if I agree with the “No pain – No gain” mantra, but I do know that it has been through the painful times of life that I have gained new understanding of God’s grace, His mercy, His guidance and His love.

So, how do I view difficult times?   How do you?

Remember the butterfly.  Before the caterpillar can become the beautiful butterfly it is destined to be, it must go through all the stages and struggles.  Only then will it emerge as the new creature that can fly far above the ground to which it formerly was attached.

Then, praise God that He is with us, in both difficult and easy times.  Praise Him that his grace and mercy is always sufficient for our struggles as we seek to put the old self away so that we can be renewed in the likeness of our Lord. When struggles come, praise the Lord that the Holy Spirit is present with us to give us strength and clarity of mind and soul as we resist temptation and stand strong in the struggle. Praise Him too that so many years ago men were ready to stand up for the Gospel and to remind us that salvation comes through faith alone, in Christ alone.

Thank you, Father, for the provision and protection of your Word and for the work of Martin Luther and other saints of the church who suffered greatly for their proclamation that justification is a matter of faith in Christ alone, and for the resulting Reformation.  Thank you too for the times when I have struggled, even when I have lost my way; for during those times, you gently guided me back to you and the struggle itself strengthened me for the rest of the journey.  Thank you for the beautiful butterfly, who daily illustrates the concept that difficulties are for a time, that there are struggles and hardships, but that the end result is worth the struggle as we grow in the likeness of our Lord Jesus Christ through your grace and mercy.

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