Regaled in orange and black splendor, the lowly monarch butterfly in many ways points to the glory of the King of kings and Lord of lords, The LORD Jesus Christ.
Why would a butterfly be counted as part of the wonderful ecosystem of Michigan’s lakeshore, you ask? You may be surprised at the answer. Not only do they inhabit the clusters of milkweed plants that live on the lakeshore, but they also use it in many more ways. One October day when hiking the lakeshore with fathers and sons from church, including my own sons, we found hundreds of monarchs on the beach. Alive, but battered by wind and sand, they perched on the shoulders and hats of the boys like so many sparkling jewels fanning their wings slowly and stiffly because of the cold. The boys then cupped them in their hands and warmed them with their breath so that they could continue their halting journey with a gentle toss into the air. Why were they there? They were the injured and weary remnants of one of the most fascinating migrations I have ever heard of.
After several life cycles of egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, and butterfly, the last generation has its reproductive development arrested by the shortened hours of daylight in the fall so that it can travel to the south to over-winter. They travel far south to the mountains of Mexico. All the surviving monarchs east of the Rocky Mountains travel thousands of miles to gather in only two mountain valleys up high in the Sierra Madre Mountains near Mexico City. Others begin their journey in southern Canada. They move at a steady speed of twenty to thirty miles per hour in all kinds of weather, and travel along the shore of Lake Michigan where we found them. They continue on from Michigan to hibernate in Mexico until the longer daylight hours cause their reproductive organs to finish development so that they can lay eggs when they again return from their journey.
In the valleys, there are so many perched on the trees and forest floor that they cover nearly every square inch of surface. Sometimes they hang from each other in great golden drapes. A Mexican friend who lived there told me it was an incredible sight to see the acres and acres of slowly moving wings flashing golden in the sun. The area is now designated as a national park for their protection. You can find pictures of this sight in the National Geographic magazines of 1975, when they discovered this secret after nearly forty years of searching.
The butterfly with its lifecycle is a beautiful picture of the death and resurrection of God’s people. We are awed and humbled by this spectacular manifestation of the power of the Creator in this migration. Imagine, a lowly insect able to travel such great distances with such accuracy having only God’s navigational system alone built into its genes. It did not learn its path from parents or follow others. New generations travel this way every year. No evolutionist can explain such a wonder. God alone is the source of this great migration. Even worldly scientists are amazed at this inexplicable phenomenon.
If our Creator can so guide the butterfly how much more can He and does He guide the lowly human worms that are called to serve Him. Surely we can put our trust into His Fatherly care. If He can bring the frail monarch through all the dangers of this incredible journey, how much more can He bring us safely home to our eternal resting place. We are humbled at so great a God.
Like the monarch in regal array
Wings its journey from day to day,
So His people through dangers all
Wing their way to heavens portal.
Strengthened along each weary step
Burdened with cares that oft could wreck
They find in Him a solace deep
For like the monarch their souls He keeps
Till like the butterfly in robes of gold
In robes of white we enter His fold.
We serve an awesome God!