A story of change, my Butterfly Story

Author: Andrew West

The Australian “Orchard butterfly” Papilio aegeus

Beauty rarely happens without change. We all appreciate beauty, but change can be difficult and we therefore tend to resist it. 

Why? Because humans are creatures of habit, and change alters the patterns in which we do things, we are secure in the predictable- change tends to make life uncomfortable. However, without change we cannot grow. Without it there can be no true repentance or sanctification. A rose bush or a fruit tree cannot flourish without occasionally being pruned, likewise we need the Lord to prune us that we may get rid of old, negative patterns and habits in order for us to flourish with new life.

Some changes in life however, can feel almost unbearable. It has been documented that the three major stresses we face in life are from change: 

1) Divorce     2) Death of a loved one     3) Moving house

In my life, one of the most defining times of change, was when my hero passed away. The man I looked up to, the man that had taught me so much in life, a man with extraordinary giftings.  I remember the night Mum called and said Dad had been diagnosed with a brain tumor. I refused to believe it since Dad had far too many unfulfilled promises left in his life.  Why would this this happen to one of the best, a man who loved and trusted God with all his heart, while at the same time I would witness other, much less honorable fathers live way into their nineties?

The situation was compounded when our close friend Gail Barley also contracted cancer. Man- did we fight for healings! … For both Gail and my Dad, we fought and fought until we felt we could fight no longer. But how could this be? We had seen SO MANY miraculous healings at Living Stones Church. “God, this is so beyond my understanding … but we trust You”.

I am a scientist not a philosopher and have always taken the pragmatic approach to everything, but some things are simply unexplainable. This is the moment where faith comes in. There are many good books that have been written to help explain why the good are taken from us, however, nothing really seems to dull the pain of this kind of change. The following is a true account of God walking with me through this, and communicating with me in a way that I personally would best understand.

Dad was diagnosed with the worst type of “galloping” brain tumor. It was already the size of a lemon when first diagnosed. Jane and I took the boys to visit dad shortly after his first brain surgery. I was shocked to see my Dad in such bad shape. I saw him the first time through the kitchen glass doors. Catching my breath before I went in to see him, I noticed a big Australian “Orchard” butterfly landing on Mum’s cumquat tree. I walked over and examined the leaves, and discovered there was a butterfly egg under the leaf. As a biologist this was of immense interest to me.

We spent a couple of great weeks with Dad, simply hanging out, praying, just being with him.  When we left to return to Kona I checked on the egg and noticed that it had hatched into a small caterpillar beginning its new life eating Mum’s cumquat leaves. 

Dad got worse, and a few weeks later I returned to Sydney. First thing to do … was to check on my caterpillar, which had now grown into a 4 inch long formidable looking creature. 

We prayed for Dad, fasted, anointed with oil, petitioned Heaven with prayer that all of heaven must’ve heard! … still no healing. However, we were immersed in a peace that I had never felt before.

My last time with Dad was a very emotional experience. Dad seemed to know that this would be the last time we would see each other in this world, and he held my hand a long time in a tight loving grip. He didn’t have to speak, as I could feel overwhelming love emanating from this godly, loving, dedicated father.

With tears in my eyes I left for the airport … but first, I checked on my caterpillar. To my surprise it was now a chrysalis, totally unrecognizable from just a few hours earlier. As I flew back to Kona I marveled at Gods creativity. I had seen the majestic parent butterfly, the egg, and all of the caterpillar stages… and now the beautiful chrysalis.

A week later we got the call that Dad was gone. I felt numb. But the most amazing thing happened. As Jane and I sat on the couch and cried … I heard it. 

Dad had been a concert pianist and we had several recordings of his music that we played to the boys as they fell asleep. I asked Jane if she had put Dads music on. As I went from room to room looking for the CD player I discovered the music wasn’t coming from any one room, the source wasn’t earthly … it was heavenly.  As I gasped with this realization the music gently faded. It is interesting to note I wasn’t the only one that experienced this in the hours after Dad passed. A close friend of my dad had the same kind of experience in their home back in Australia.

For the memorial service I flew back to Sydney again, I again checked on my chrysalis. To my surprise, the chrysalis was now open and the newly emerged butterfly had already flown. Pondering all this I drove to the funeral home. When I saw Dad laying there in the open casket, it dawned on me. This was Dad’s chrysalis. This wasn’t him at all… he had gone.  Then I believe God spoke these words to me:

 “Your Dad is no longer here. Just as the butterfly is the final stage in my design for the caterpillar, now your Dad is enjoying his perfected body … his final design” … “ Don’t get so hung up in the caterpillar stage”

“Don’t get so hung up in the caterpillar stage”! … It all made sense now. We, while here on earth, are in our “caterpillar” stage. We get so accustomed to this life that we tend to fear the next step. I immediately hit the books and realized that over 2 MILLION species on planet earth go through a similar metamorphosis. God designed us to change! It’s His modus operandi! As the caterpillar isn’t the final stage; neither is the body we are living in presently. 

It’s all about change. Sanctification changes us into the Lord’s image character-wise when we’re in the earthly stage … life on earth is an important stage yes … but not the final stage. 

Change on all levels is difficult and even scary, but when viewed through heavenly eyes, we realize that change is very important. Life here is only a temporary stage, a “vapor” as the Bible calls it… then (if we belong to the Lord) even better things are to come.!  When we truly grasp this, and realize the magnitude and the love of our Heavenly Father, the fear of change tends to dissipate.

He understands our human frailty (Is 40:6-8), I believe His word to all of us is: “Yes, enjoy me now, but much, MUCH more is to come!!”