I’ve been seeing a lot of butterflies lately, noticeably the large, black and yellow ones. My husband Ed reminded me that it IS “butterfly season”, but I know when the Lord is speaking to me through signs of nature. It always coincides with my current prayers and the issues He has placed in and upon my heart. Yes, there are butterflies everywhere this time of year, but they rarely approach, hover and dance around my feet. The significant brilliance of the black and yellow butterfly would have been known only to me and my sister. You see, God sent the two of us a dancing, black and yellow butterfly as we sat quietly at our mother’s graveside the day after she was laid to rest 12 years ago. With the colorful array of flowers still spread over the ground, sweet fragrance filling the sticky, July air of the Carolina’s, Peggy’s girls sat in silence.
Words would not come forth as the flood of memories invaded our restless minds. The five-year nightmare of our mother’s violent attack and subsequent traumatic head injuries had ended. (Mamma was a fatal victim of criminal domestic violence.) The terror of her bruises, her fear, her hospital visits, her frequent panicky phone calls, her mental and emotional anguish and physical decline… all permeated the non-stop movie screen playing in one continuous loop. Yet a strange and quiet peace washed over us as we knew her suffering was over and she was finally home with Jesus. She was FREE.
Suddenly our butterfly appeared out of nowhere. She came up over the hill, and gracefully danced across the flowers before us. She gently lit atop a rose, looking each one of us in the eye. She stayed long enough to ensure our attention, then she fluttered around our heads, then happily danced away as if to say “Don’t cry for me – I am finally FREE!” My sister nor I could contain the joy from deep within as we grinned at each other, simultaneously whispering the word “Mamma”. Now we know that that butterfly was not actually our mother, but we also knew the Lord had sent her to represent Mamma’s spirit that was now at rest – free from the abuse and pain she had endured for so long.
Once during my mother’s brief stay at a nursing facility in our home town, we had been discussing the giant bird cage in the front lobby filled with colorful, singing parakeets, canaries and finches. I had asked if she’d like to be put in charge of feeding them because she had always enjoyed feeding the birds in her back yard. She leaned in to me and said in a top-secret but determined whisper, “I’d just set them all free.” That was my free-spirited mother. And now we could rest easy knowing that she was flying high with freed birds and butterflies!
The butterfly is also an amazing representation of death and resurrection. The caterpillar trudges around for months before wrapping himself in a cocoon, a “tomb” if you will. He will sleep there indefinitely and by all appearances seems to have died. Yet that cocoon will split open and the most beautiful winged creature emerges with unparalleled strength, joy, and freedom! This represents our true spirits being released into the heavenly realm where, if we are saved and covered by the Blood of Jesus, we will dwell with Him in Glory forever.
The transformation of the caterpillar-to-butterfly is a beautiful mystery in nature. It can also represent transformation during our EARTHLY lives as we lay down or “bury” old dead things that have bound us up and caused us pain. As we “die to self” daily (Romans 6:4), laying those dead, terrifying things at the foot of the Cross, we can be delivered from them, emerging healed and FREE in Jesus’ Name!
So why all the butterflies now, these 12 years later? I have sensed for some time that a “transformation” is in store for my own life and ministry. Are the butterflies a symbol of the women I’ll help to set free? Or are they a reminder of the freedom I’ve received myself through my faith in Christ? (Old mindsets do often creep in and bind us up again if we let them, causing us to worry too much about what we’re “supposed” to be doing.)
Transformation is coming. I’m a butterfly, and butterflies are free to fly… as are robins.
“Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:19)