Every Fall, Midwesterners watch the Monarch butterflies fly south. Every spring they return. Where do they hang out in the winter? Observers discovered the Monarchs east of the Rocky Mountains fly all the way to Mexico for the winter. The butterflies west of the Rockies fly to wintering sites along the Pacific Ocean.
Scientists have taken Monarch butterflies from the west Coast and brought them to the Midwest and found they fly to Mexico. When they transferred Monarchs from the Midwest to the other side of the Rockies, those flew to the Pacific. When you switch the butterflies, they automatically change their wintering sites.
When following them from Mexico back to the United States for their annual trip, it was discovered the butterflies only fly a few hundred miles, lay their eggs and die. Their children continue the trip north. That generation goes a few hundred miles, lays eggs and dies. Then a fourth generation goes the rest of the way.
So, when you see a monarch butterfly this summer, it’s quite likely the great grandchild of one of the monarchs that was in your garden last summer. It takes at least four generations of Monarchs to complete their migration. This is why so many butterflies spend so much time browsing on Ancestry.com!
Our Christian mission is a bit like a migratory mission. It cannot be completed within our lifetimes. In Hebrews 11 we learn that the Old Testament saints prepared the spiritual foundation of us, even though none of them received the promise. God orchestrated their faith together with ours to complete His plan. We are part of the great cloud of witnesses.
This is why Christians, regardless of whether they are from the Middle East and Africa, Europe or Asia, all have the same agenda and destination: demonstrate to everyone God’s love in Jesus Christ.
I always get excited thinking about the names at the end of Romans 16. Those initial believers are part of my faith journey, as I will be part of the spiritual lives of the coming generations.
The God of the past generation will coordinate the efforts of succeeding generations to play a small, yet crucial part in a very long story. We get to fly this leg of the journey of faith!
Rev Dr William Lewis