Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Beauty and the Beast

When I was about 5 years old I remember playing in the back courtyard of my New Orleans home. It was a sunny afternoon and I was playing by myself when I happened upon a butterfly! Chasing after it I managed to grab it when it had landed on a white daisy. Thrilled about this beautiful creature I had found, I ran to share it with my mother. I had only reached the back steps when a scream cried out from my throat. With tears beginning to run down my face my mother flung open the door in not more than a second and was immediately asking what was wrong. As I opened my throbbing hand, what I thought was a butterfly had magically turned into a bee and flew away! My mother whisked me up and put a soothing mixture of baking soda and water on my swollen palm. After the pain had left and tears wiped away my mother asked, “Why did you not let it go when if stung you?” My reply was simple, “Because I wanted to share the pretty butterfly with you.”

Thinking about that day I muse at how many times in our lives we have chased after beautiful butterflies, only to discover they were a bee. The Lord, in His motherly way, must have the same response to us when we bring Him our little findings. Even when we come running to Him with a painful grasp on something that has fooled us, I can only imagine His grace and favor upon us. Looking down at us with a smile as tears are running all over our faces, He is simply moved that we were trying to share it with Him (even though we made a mistake). Then wrapping us up in grace and mercy, tending to our wounds and lovingly explaining the difference between bees and butterflies - cautioning us to take time to discern the difference next time.

Several years later my family visited a butterfly house at the Caloway Gardens.  Together we walked through the tropical green house that was home to hundreds of butterflies! Before entering though, we learned that when a butterfly landed in your hand, it was very important not to touch the wings or the scales would rub off and the butterfly would die. I was shocked and remember intently focusing on keeping my hands open wide - being careful not to close my fingers on the butterflies that landed on me - even when they tickled my fingers with their legs and tongues. 

And in the last few years the Lord has been teaching me how important it is to keep our hands open spiritually as well. Remembering the story about a man who scooped up water greedily and, trying to keep it for himself, squeezed his hands shut. Then when he opened them for a drink he found there was no water left - it had all been squashed out of the cracks between his fingers. Another man went to scoop the water with his hands open like a bowl, when he went to drink from the water in his hands there was enough to sooth his thirst. No water had left his open hands. It seems a dichotomy that in order to keep something you must not hold onto it, but this is exactly what the Lord has challenged us to do. That we would not get caught up on holding onto what is "ours," because in reality it's all His anyways, and instead maintain a position that would allow us to freely receive and freely give. What a beautiful picture that is, for even when we hold onto something with our fists closed, we are not positioning ourselves to receive anything else. I don't know about you but I am not content with what I have. Granted, I am satisfied and ever so thankful for what He has given me, but the more I learn the less I seem to know and the more of Him that I need. 

What is it that we are chasing after right now? Are we holding onto something that we think is beautiful, but that is really a bee? Lord, may we be after your heart alone because we know that you are the only pure butterfly in this life. Keep us from becoming like Jerusalem, turning away from you and backsliding because they have clung to deceit and refused to return (Jer 8:5). Instead may we keep our palms open, holding fast nothing but integrity (Job 2:3), righteousness (Job 27:6), your instruction (Prov 4:13), sound and faithful words (2 Tim 1:13 & Tits 1:9), confidence and the rejoicing of the hope (Heb 3:6), the profession of our faith (Heb 4:14, 10:23), and holding fast to Your Name (Rev 2:13). 
Love Always

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