One thing I love to do is teach my children how all of creation is shouting the glory of the Lord. Every time I pause to take a closer look at something he has made, my sense of awe at his creativity and goodness is renewed. This past month as part of our homeschool curriculum, I ordered a cup of caterpillars that we could watch turn into butterflies.
Not everyone is cut out to have a science experiment like this on their kitchen counter (and I assure you I made my husband in charge of all the “icky” parts like chrysalis transfer), but if you think you can handle it, I’d highly recommend this simple way to watch God’s creation unfold through new eyes.
There were three specific things we learned about God through our study of butterflies:
1. God’s creation is spectacularly detailed.
As you watch the caterpillars grow and examine their intricate workings, you can talk about how much thought and detail and love God pours into even the smallest of creatures. They move and grow and live because of his perfect design. When they are grown, you will be able to note all manner of minutia — like the fact that they’re born with a split tongue that fuses together, or they prefer blueberries to strawberries —that are just delightful. You can almost sense how proud God would be of these beautiful little creatures and how much they must make him smile.
2. Christ is making us into new creations.
When the caterpillars changed into butterflies, we talked about, and memorized, the verse 2 Corinthians 5:17 which says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.” We were one kind of creature before we put our faith in Jesus, and then an entirely new creation afterwards. How cool is it that he packaged that lesson in tiny butterflies?
3. Jesus has conquered the grave.
One of my friends who used to teach in a classroom was telling me that the worst part of this experiment was 20 kids crying at once if a butterfly should pass on. Unfortunately, we faced that sad reality in the course of our experiment too. But it led to important conversations about who God is and what he has promised about things to come. Although I was careful not to promise that butterflies will enjoy the same resurrection we will, (even though I hope they do!) we were able to talk about the fact that Jesus died once for all so that death no longer has power over us if we place our faith in him. My kids and I talked about how God never intended for death to be a part of the world, and how sin corrupted everything. We talked about the new heaven and the new earth, where there will be no more death. It was definitely mature subject matter that I wish I could have spared them from having to know about (forever!) but sadly, death is a reality of life. I’m glad at least that this was a gentle way to help them understand that. And I’m grateful for the hope we have in Jesus to know it will not always be so.
At the end of our time with our butterflies, my daughter created a book about their lives, including the end and the hope we have of heaven. It was a precious time learning more about the character of our unfathomable God.
I’m sure this article has just convinced you that hatching butterflies is not a good idea, haha! But if anything, the next time you and your child see one in the garden (or there may be a zoo exhibit or nature museum nearby), you can point out how many ways these tiny creatures reflect the glory of their Creator. It will nurture their faith and yours.