Savoring Summer #12: White Admiral Butterfly

IMG_1433 edit“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires. And do not offer any parts of it to sin as weapons for unrighteousness. But as those who are alive from the dead, offer yourselves to God, and all the parts of yourselves to God as weapons for righteousness.” (Romans 6:12-13)

The word translated as “weapon” here can also be translated as implement, utensil, tool, instrument or armor.  The idea of a tool that is “offensive for war” fits well with the theme woven throughout Scripture of spiritual warfare and the idea of righteousness versus unrighteousness—but it’s interesting to insert the word that makes the most sense for you.  Perhaps you better understand the idea of tools being used to build a structure that is safe versus one that isn’t.  Or the thought of kitchen utensils being used to make unhealthy food versus food that nourishes.

In all cases, the exact same implements are used, but for entirely opposite purposes and outcomes.

We only get one body, that lasts only so long—and we have been given the freedom to make the choices about how, when, where and why we use it.  I find myself challenged by these verses to be more intentional about those choices, asking more often the searching question: will this action further the cause of righteousness…or not?

P.S. See this original post for info about this photo challenge and more about this reading plan I’m using this summer for the book of Romans (and I’d love to have you join in!)!

 

Milkweed

IMG_0171.JPGWe paused on our evening walk by a stand of sturdy broad-leafed plants, with their rounded flower heads bursting demurely into dusty pink.  It’s a habit formed in kindergarten for both of us, this annual foray into a milkweed patch.  After years of monarch caterpillar awareness,  we “knew” that it was just that time of summer that there should be some caterpillars in that milkweed, somewhere.  And we needed to say hello, show them to our girls, maybe remind them that there’s a nice little flower garden full of butterfly-friendly flowers in front of our house that they’re welcome to visit when they’re grown up.

But where were they?IMG_0168It was a delightful little game of hide-and-seek, peering under leaves, along stems—and it was a credit to surprisingly clever camouflage that we had almost given up when we finally spotted one.  But then it was like our eyes adjusted and we suddenly saw them everywhere!  Some tiny, some large, dressed in yellow, black and white stripes, far too busy eating to notice they’d been discovered by friendly nature enthusiasts.  Did you know that a Monarch caterpillar is capable of eating an entire milkweed leaf in less than five minutes?  Pretty amazing mouth-work for such a tiny creature!IMG_0160IMG_0169A few weeks later, walking past the same stand of milkweed, I witnessed a delicate orange and black butterfly flitting from flower to flower, graciously sipping nectar, and I found myself marveling anew at the beauty of God’s design for sustainability in creation.

The plant gives of itself so the caterpillar may eat.  The caterpillar, nurtured exclusively by milkweed, becomes a butterfly.  The butterfly, fresh out of its gold-flecked chrysalis pauses to pollinate the flowers of its benefactor, therefore ensuring that it will bear seed to produce…

more plants,

for more caterpillars,

for more butterflies,

for more seed next year.

IMG_0461.JPGAnd while we’re marveling over Monarch butterflies, let’s not forget how those gorgeously designed wings covered in tiny delicate scales will carry this creature 2,500 miles to Mexico come fall, to spend a warm winter on the exact same few trees its ancestors have spent winters on for ages before, and then all the way back again in the spring to lay the eggs that will become that next generation of caterpillars—because there isn’t any milkweed in Mexico!

There’s so much to marvel at in just this one amazing life cycle in nature!  Truly:

“…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 people are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)

On the Eleventh Day of Summer…

IMG_9493.JPG…my camera gave to me,

Eleven butterflies a-sipping.

A tiny parable for you:

“Come with me!” called one butterfly to another as she floated past on the soft breezes of a bright June day.

“Where to?” the other asked from her perch on a clover bud, “Why should I leave this perfectly good flower?”

“Because I want to take you to the most wonderful flowers I’ve ever had the pleasure of landing on,” she replied joyfully.  “They’re like big round tables spread with the finest lace tablecloth, with room for the largest of nectar-sipping parties.  The nectar served is the sweetest for miles—and it’s free for the taking!”

She believed her friend, and followed, and having reached the patch of cow parsnip and finding everything just a wonderful as she had been told, never once regretted the clover bud left behind.

And, so it is for us, when we take God at His Word, and forsake what does not satisfy for that which eternally does.

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat!  Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.  Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?  Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.  Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live…” (Isaiah 55:1-3)

“Jesus…cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink... (John 7:37-38)

“…whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)

 

 

 

Feeding Frenzy

IMG_4931.JPGLately there’s been a lot of extra activity around my flower pots and garden.  Maybe it’s because they all know that cold weather is right around the corner, and aren’t lulled into complacency by the recent heat wave like the rest of us.  At any rate, the hummingbirds, butterflies and bees have been busier among my flowers than they’ve been all summer.  In fact, they’ve been so absorbed in the accumulation of nectar and pollen that they’ve hardly seemed to mind when I came by with my camera.

Is this what it’s like to hunger and thirst, as the Scripture says, after God and His righteousness?  IMG_4908.JPG“My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? (Psalm 42:2)
IMG_4936-1.jpg IMG_4957.JPG“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. (Matthew 5:6)
IMG_4958.JPG“For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things. (Psalm 107:9)
IMG_4897
“O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” (Psalm 34:8)

I want to be like these little creatures.

Not lulled into complacency by the fleeting comforts that surround me.  Not distracted by those who stand at the sidelines looking on.  Free of the fear of what others may think.  So utterly consumed with the desire to know God and His righteousness, that all else fades away in my pursuit to know and be filled.IMG_5073-1.jpgTo drink to the fill and be completely satisfied, as He promises.

How about you?

Blooming Butterflies

IMG_6385IMG_6388Last weekend, we went to the zoo.

Papa was excited about the big snakes in the rain forest exhibit.

The oldest daughter was in awe of the coral reef tank and the lovely little sea horses.

The middle daughter loved the playful monkeys swinging on their ropes, exclaiming excitedly when she first spotted them:  “I find a monkey, Mama, I find a monkey!”

The littlest daughter was just thrilled to be out of her car seat after the long drive.

But I loved the butterfly house best of all.

IMG_6457Unlike most of the animal exhibits, which required you to observe them through glass or behind fences, the hoop house containing the butterflies was completely interactive.  They were free to flutter all around us and even land on us if they wished as we wandered along little pathways through a maze of wonderfully fragrant flowers—and short of actually touching them, we could get as close to them as we wanted, too.

There were butterflies of every shape, pattern, size and color, from all over the world, each one a miniature piece of exquisite fluttering artwork.

IMG_6459-1IMG_6453IMG_6451IMG_6452IMG_6455There’s something wonderful about kneeling beneath the sweetly scented white trumpets of nicotiana to show your wide-eyed two-year-old a blue Doris Longwing straight from the Amazon jungle, slowly opening and closing its stunning wings—and be reminded in yet another new and exotic way of what a beautiful world our Creator has made.

“All this also comes from the LORD Almighty, whose plan is wonderful, whose wisdom is magnificent.” (Isaiah 28:29)

 

 

Farewell to the Lilacs

swallowtail on lilacs / rejoicing hillsThe lilacs are turning brown around the edges and fading away, and all the yellow swallowtail butterflies that have been flitting happily about them for the last couple weeks have gone away, too.  Bless the farmer or farmer’s wife who planted a small spindly seedling in our yard some 100 years ago!  Did they ever envision how splendid it would become, this massive bank of lavender every spring that wafts its heady fragrance on the winds to our porch?

lilac bush / rejoicing hills lilacs / rejoicing hills

How grateful I am for their foresight!  Those people are long dead and gone, but their vision of beauty continues to live on in our front yard for our benefit and enjoyment.  As I savored the last remnants of perfume from my porch today, I was reminded of Someone else who envisioned and planned something beautiful long before I was born, stunningly, and very intentionally, with me in mind.  Actually, as long ago as before the world began.

“God…hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.”  (2 Timothy 1:9)lilacs / rejoicing hills IMG_6648

Not only that, but there’s more to come:

“For…eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”  (1 Corinthians 2:9)

I am so grateful!