“Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity” (KJV Ps. 39:5). The psalmist’s words describe it pretty well. However much we try to convince ourselves that our immortality is in our children or in the loving memories of family and friends, these blessings don’t usually offer enough reassurance. That’s because they don’t directly offset our real concern, which is: “In a very short time, no one on earth will know who I actually am.” And this egotistical self-centeredness leads me back to the psalmist thought, “man at his best state is altogether vanity.”
This morning, this vanity for the transitory nature of life interrupted my prayer time. It surprised me at first. But then, after worrying about my own mortality for a while, my eyes fell on the butterfly art on my wall. It occurred to me that no butterfly would ever feel the need to hold onto its caterpillar life—or, even worse, its life as a pupa! That existence pales in comparison to the upward flight of a butterfly’s bright and beautiful glory. I started to laugh then. Why was I still vainly trying to hold onto a life defined by a fuzzy body and many legs?
I’m not saying that letting go of our time here is easy. It’s natural and tempting to depend on our present existence, particularly when the next stage of life is so difficult to visualize. I do think, though, that the butterfly glory of our greater individuality flits through our consciousness now and then. In the quiet of a moment at twilight or in the stillness of a shared and inspired prayer, we are touched by something greater. We can’t see it or describe it. But we know it is real nonetheless. As Paul promises: “The sufferings we have now are nothing compared to the great glory that will be shown to us. Everything God made is waiting with excitement for God to show his children’s glory completely” (NCV Rom. 8:18-19). And with these inspired hints of that bright and beautiful glory, we caterpillars are comforted. (Living Strong, chapter 48)