Do you feel like 2020 has been a season of waiting? Waiting for this pandemic to be over. Waiting for a vaccine. Waiting to go back to work or school. Waiting to take a trip. And waiting for this contentious election to be over. Waiting. I don’t like it. I don’t like waiting in line, waiting in traffic, or even waiting for the clothes dryer to buzz. And I sure don’t want to wait for a Covid test or election results. I know I can’t be alone in this. We live in such an instant, fast-paced, everything-at-our-fingertips world that we have become conditioned to expect things to happen on demand. So even waiting for the microwave to ding sometimes seems interminable. We multi-task, we check off our to-do lists, and we become human doings instead of human beings.
This year God has decided to teach me about waiting, about being still and quiet, and how to wait well. Every year right around the beginning of the New Year I ask God to give me a Bible verse, a scripture that I can hang my hat on. It is usually something that He wants to work into me, and it usually takes a year to do it. But this year I got a word: “Wait. On. God.” Emphatic, like three distinct sentences. Wait on God. And when God gave it to me, I knew it was from Him. No, I didn’t hear an audible voice, but I heard it deep in my spirit. When you have walked with God for a while things like that happen.
But what did those words mean, wait on God? I had no idea in January. But as we all know, 2020 has been a year of waiting. There have been many lessons for me about waiting. The first one being it is okay to be still. When you are a Type A, “Git-R-Done” girl, being still doesn’t come naturally. But I learned the value in it. And while the rest of you were cleaning out closets and baking banana bread (and those are good things) I was being still with God. I spent time in the Bible, time reading, and learned a new way to journal His word. And I have prayed. A lot! I learned that some of the things I thought were important really don’t matter very much. I think I have grown stronger in my walk with Jesus. Maybe He is preparing me for a new assignment, or maybe He is getting me ready to meet Him face to face. He will reveal it in His own time. The quarantine has taught me that we can spend a good deal of time waiting for the next big thing and miss the precious things that are right in front of us.
So what does any of this have to do with butterflies? I was on my patio earlier today on a Zoom call (and haven’t we had a lot of those?) It was a national prayer call, and the devotional theme today was about waiting. Seriously? It’s October and we are still working on waiting? When God wants to teach me something He comes at me from all angles. While I was on this call I happened to look around and see that we had butterflies. Lots of them, fluttering around. You might not think that having butterflies in your yard is very remarkable, but I was excited! We have worked for those butterflies.
Our butterfly journey began this spring when I was visiting my friend Sally. She lives in a rural area, across the road from The Euchee Butterfly Farm and a garden area known as The Tribal Alliance for Pollinators. Their mission is to restore plants native to the Oklahoma prairie and to establish habitats for Monarch butterflies. We had already planted one little anemic milkweed plant (which is now flourishing), but after visiting with Sally we planted some Black-eyed Susans and Coneflowers that just happened to be on sale at Lowe’s.
As I was praying and looking at those butterflies (yes, my eyes were open while I prayed), it occurred to me how much of a butterfly’s life is spent waiting before it finally gets to soar. It starts out as an egg that eventually hatches into a caterpillar. The caterpillar eats and eats until it finally quits growing and then forms itself into a pupa or chrysalis. And there it waits, but not passively. God is at work transforming it in a process called metamorphosis. Lots of growing and changing is taking place until finally, the butterfly breaks free and soon flies. Then the whole process starts all over again when the butterfly lays eggs. By the way, if you are ever tempted to help a butterfly out of its chrysalis, don’t do it. The butterfly needs the struggle to develop wings strong enough to fly.
Sometimes all we can do is wait. Earlier this year when we were on full lockdown, I certainly felt cocooned. But if we make good use of that waiting time, God will transform and develop us into the person we need to become for the next chapter of our lives. Maybe He is developing our trust muscles. It hit me today, that the God who planned so intricately for something as small and insignificant as a butterfly, has a plan for me. He has a purpose in this waiting season. The same God who cares about a butterfly cares for me. And it is more than okay to be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10). In fact, sometimes being still might be the most important thing we can do.