Posted by: John-Paul | August 19, 2011

Butterflies…and Their Toxic Young

A small, pale yellow butterfly fluttered by the car’s windshield as I drove to work with my son.  It reminded me of the many positive things said about the frivolous creatures.

Joni Eareckson Tada told a story of driving with her family high into the mountains – maybe the Continental Divide.  The others got out and walked around but Joni remained strapped in her wheelchair in the car because of some mechanical difficulty.

Alone, unable to join the others, Joni felt self-pity until she saw a butterfly struggling to make its way up and over the high pass.  To her, this was a sign that God still remembered her.

My wife Donna loved butterflies.  On the bedroom wall beyond the foot of our bed hung a picture of a butterfly and an empty chrysalis.  Next to the computer in our living room, a sign reads, “What the caterpillar thinks is the end, the butterfly knows is just the beginning.”

As I drove to work, pondering these thoughts, I felt a softness on the back of my neck.  I swiped at it and realized an insect had landed there.  Thinking of the yellow jackets I’d discovered in our yard that morning, I hurriedly flung it off.

My son looked and said it was a caterpillar.  Before we reached work, my neck began to sting.   I washed it off and smeared on medication as soon as I could but my neck still broke out in a rash…again.

The year before, Donna and I drove away from our church’s campground and I felt a caterpillar on my neck.   I broke out then, too, and researched online about their chemical defenses.  I certainly avoid touching them when I can.

How like people before they find new life in Jesus.  Slow, Earth-bound, maybe colorful or maybe showing white but with a black core, they are toxic to anyone who touches them.  After the transformation wrought by Messiah, they emerge able to float through life, are more colorful than before, and are able to pass on life and God’s promises to others.

Of course, some butterflies still taste bad to predators.  And some believers can leave a bad taste in the mouths of other people.  They continue to need God to use His transforming power on them.  Still, they are better off than flightless caterpillars.


  1. Thanks for sharing this today John Paul. It blessed me in a very tender way.
    I remember how much Donna loved butterflies.
    Butterflies also remind me of my sweet Sarah. Every time I see one, I think of her, but then again,,,I think of her always.
    So thankful for the way Jesus transforms us and helps us.
    Blessings to you my friend.
    Erica Russell

    • Your comment is much appreciated. I certainly understand your grief. Remember Emmanuel.

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