The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.— Rabindranath Tagore, Indian writer (1861-1941)
Several years ago, when our girls were younger, we put a caterpillar in one of those mesh net terrariums. The girls decided it was a she-pillar and named her Cookie. We fed her with milkweed and watched as she formed her chrysalis and then, finally, hatched out completely transformed into a stunning butterfly. We said our goodbyes on the front porch as Cookie tentatively spread her beautiful wings and soon was flying, first around the porch and then out into the yard and the woods beyond. We were so proud. Raising Cookie was a lot easier than raising girls! But it all happened so fast (I know I’ll say the same thing about raising girls—they’ll be grown in the blink an eye). And Cookie has long ago lived her life and passed on.
Remembering her brief stay with our family got me thinking about time.
The quote above, from Indian writer Rabindranath Tagore, is insightful. Butterflies truly do live in the moment, don’t they? And yet they are among the most beautiful and elegant of God’s creatures. Ecclesiastes 3:11 begins with this declaration: “He [God] has made everything beautiful in its time.” From an easy-to-overlook chrysalis to the impossible-to-miss flitting butterfly, the Creator has His own designs and timetables for His world.
And as I’ve developed this piece I call “Time Enough,” a truth has begun to dawn on me: As short-lived as the butterfly’s life may be, it does, indeed, have “time enough.” It has time enough to simply be what God created it to be—in Cookie’s case, a beautiful butterfly. That’s all it has to do—and be—and there is enough time for that.
I’m old enough now to realize that I’ll not live long enough to read all the books I want to read. Or create all the art for which I have ideas. Or spend the time I want to spend with the people I love. But that’s my agenda. God has made me for a purpose—to glorify Him, enjoy a deep relationship with Him and serve Him by serving others. And if I’m attending to those things, like the butterfly, I’ll have time enough.
Jesus had just 33 short years on earth and only three years of actual formal recorded ministry, yet He didn’t spend time regretting yesterday or worrying about tomorrow. He lived in the moments and had time enough—to love, to pray and worship, to teach, to heal, to meet a meet a need, to be a friend. My life, and yours, may last for many more years or may soon come to an end. But even so, there’s time enough—in God’s time—to be who we were created to be.
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