A few years back, my son and I decided on a special mission. We were determined to move a rock from our yard to a permanent location down by the creek. However, the rock was not as light as I had remembered it. Actually, I could only roll it, and there was no way I would be able to roll it a quarter of a mile down the road and into the creek. Special mission thwarted. I gazed over the flower bed and into the backyard and remembered I needed to terminate some volunteer Mimosa tree seedlings. New mission accepted. My son wanted to follow me, although by now he was upset we were not going to the creek.
As we rounded the house, I heard him say, “Wook, a buffly!” It was his two year old way of saying, “Look, a butterfly.” I thought he had only seen one fly by. He is amazed at creepy crawly and winged creatures. He asked if he could pick it up.
I thought, “I don’t particularly care if he picks up a butterfly, but I am almost positive he can’t catch one.” So I told him to go for it.
As we got to the front of the house, I noticed he had a yellow and black creature in his hand. It was a rather large butterfly. I thought to myself, “How in the world did a clumsy fingered two-year old catch butterfly?” I thought it must be dead. Then I thought if it wasn’t dead, it would be soon. He wanted to show his mother, so I had him to go to the door and call her to look.
My wife came outside and saw the butterfly. I could tell from her reaction it was not dead. She stopped him from removing one of the wings. I finished my job and came under the carport where my son, my wife, and the butterfly were. I saw the butterfly struggle to move its wings, and I wondered what happened to ground it. I held it in my hand and examined it for several seconds before I noticed it was missing one of its legs. And then to add insult to injury, it looked as if part of its wing had been ripped off (still not certain if it was a bird attack or a little boy attack).
I am not an expert in butterflies, but I felt like the middle leg which was missing would be crucial for steadying an object before taking off in flight.
We tried several times without success to get the butterfly to stand up. Each time it looked as if he was throwing in the towel. It had taken all his energy to flap his wings several times only to fall helplessly to the concrete below. Over and over we tried and my son’s bottom lip grew more pronounced. Several times, he blew on the butterfly thinking he was supplying the air needed for winged creature to take flight once again. He repeated a phrase to the butterfly again and again. “You can do it, buddy,” he would say as he tried desperately to coax our new friend into flight.
I was close to giving up. I could do no more for this poor butterfly, and I knew he would probably remain on the table in our carport until he breathed his last (Butterflies do breathe right? Yes, it is a spiracle miracle). I surrendered to what I believed. I had no faith and all logic told me this butterfly was a goner.
My son however, full of life, has not seen the cruel reality of death in the insect world. He did not know an insect with only 5 legs and a ripped wing was not supposed to fly.
He looked at me and asked if he could hold it. I thought to myself, “He can’t hurt it any more than it already is.” So I handed the butterfly over to the outstretched hand of an eager two year old. As soon as the butterfly touched his hand, it went into flight. This was not a fluttery flight in which the butterfly struggled to stay in the air, this was flight like the butterfly had just emerged from the cocoon ready to take on the world.
Knox looked up at me with a smile as big as the world. I don’t think he was as surprised as I was. The little boy’s faith had been realized in the flight of the butterfly. I think he knew more than I did.
Many times, I am quick to surrender to thinking things are not supposed to happen or it is impossible for them to happen. I am a skeptic, and I figure I have been converted to that way of thinking by doing time in this world. I am a slave to the idea of the impossible. I no longer challenge the limits of what is possible. To me the butterfly was not supposed to live much less fly away. But, to my son the butterfly was made for the air.
Most days I need to view the world with wonder and amazement like my son did on that day. I need to foster his imagination and strong belief, because I am going to need his faith to help me remember mine. I need his hope in this world to help me remember where my hope lies. I need to show my son there is beauty and mystery in this world, so on days like this he can remind me. I will need his help remembering that if God can bring this dead man to life, then surely a tattered-winged five-legged insect can fly. I need to remember God is the God of possible, not the impossible.
“Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18:17