IF??? Hardly. It’s more like WHEN and HOW Nature talks… isn’t it, Lord?
Like today. We went on our soon-to-be daily eight-mile bicycle ride along the Blue Ridge Turnpike. The name doesn’t really fit the road. “Turnpike” suggests a sterile asphalt highway with wall-to-wall cars, all traveling at warp speed. Our local “turnpike” is more like a throwback to an earlier century — a two-lane road surrounded by trees and farmland, supporting only a handful of vehicles.
That’s where You spoke to me today, Lord, through the seven different Messengers You sent… all with the same Message.
The first three were Eastern Tiger Swallowtails — beautiful butterflies, “wearing” brilliant yellow with black accents. You know what butterflies mean to me, Lord! Or, rather, what You have caused them to mean to me. What HOPE they always stir up in me, as symbols of Your radically-transforming grace in my life.
But even more striking than their appearance was their behavior. One at a time, they were leading me along the turnpike… for distances and periods of time that were way too long to be the stuff of chance! One began, then gave way as the second took up its “leg”… yielding finally to the third, who disappeared around a curve in the road.
Their enthusiasm was evident as they flitted back and forth, to and fro, up and down… always staying ahead of me. Close enough for me to keep up, but far enough away to urge me forward. Along this picturesque roadway, complete with sound effects from the gurgling river that ran beside it. Messenger # 4 — A river full of Living Water.
Because I wasn’t just on a bike ride this morning… was I, Lord? I was on a bike ride in a much larger context — a larger journey of healing to which You have invited me. A journey that promises yet another radical transformation in my life. And there I saw You today, in those beautiful butterflies… as if You, Yourself, were leading me along the path.
Because You are… aren’t You, Lord?
“How priceless is Your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of Your wings. They feast on the abundance of Your house; You give them drink from Your river of delights.” (Psalm 36:7-8)
The next messenger (# 5) was a large herd… or, rather, what had attracted a large herd. I turned a corner and came upon fifty head of cattle in a large open pasture that was many acres in size. Yet the cattle were all crowded together near the road, right next to the fence. It wasn’t hard to know why. You were giving them coveted shade on a day when temperatures and humidity were both steadily climbing. Messenger # 5 — Your Life-saving shade.
“The Lord watches over you — the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you safe from all harm — He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going, both now and forevermore.” (Psalm 121:3-8)
Yet another precious promise for this “ride within a larger ride” that I am on with You!
Messenger # 6? Yet another yellow swallowtail! Directing my attention to another open field, whose inhabitants (Messenger # 7) were also huddled together under the shade of the only tree. Three horses — brown, black and white. I call them “The Three Musketeers” because they are always together. All for one. One for all. Like another Three I know. You, Abba… with Jesus and Your Holy Spirit. Always together. All for one. One for all.
“A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12)
A cord of You three is never broken.
Four butterflies, leading even as they testify. A river, whose water speaks Life. One shaded herd, peacefully grazing. Three Musketeers, gratefully together. Seven beautiful promises of HOPE. Because of You, Lord — always present, always watching, always loving, always providing, always protecting … always everything!
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23)
With joyful anticipation,