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Warming Butterflies, or How to Treat Your Wife

A few years ago, Lucia bought four milkweed plants and eleven caterpillars for our children. It was one of those science experiments in our laboratory, also called our home. And, per usual, God had additional plans for us. Going above and beyond our expectations is part of His nature (Isaiah 55:8-9).

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He never leaves us alone (Matthew 28:20) because He wants to engage us, even in the mundane moments of our simple lives. It is in the ordinary moments where God can be most clearly seen (Romans 1:20). His daily kindnesses to us are innumerable (Matthew 5:45).

You are the LORD, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you. – Nehemiah 9:6

You see the most profound understanding of the glory of God intersecting with the mundane moments of our lives in the gospel. Jesus, who was in the form of God, took on the form of a servant. Christ left the glory and wonder of His place to take on flesh and live in our mundane world.

He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. – Philippians 2:6-7

Christ, living in the splendor of the glory with His Father, chose to come to our dirty and defiled world to live with us (John 1:14), to change us. Eventually, He died a cruel, but ordinary death on the cross to save us from our worthless condition (Romans 3:12).

God is not afraid of or indifferent to the mundane. He seemingly prefers it, especially when He can put His glory on display. And because we can miss seeing His beauty on earth, the Savior is always quick to direct us to the glory of His Father as perceived in nature (Psalm 19:1-6; Romans 1:20).

Jesus shows us often how God is interested in seemingly disinteresting things. And from these teaching moments, we learn so much about our heavenly Father.

An illustration of this idea is when Jesus taught His friends as they were walking along a path. He directed them to contemplate the lilies of the field. Later, He led them to reflect on the birds of the air (Matthew 6:25-34). The Savior carefully and skillfully moved His disciples from the concrete, animal, and plant kingdoms to the abstract concepts that are in the spiritual world.

He connected all of life to the spiritual realities of who His friends were and how they were to relate to God and others. His teaching not only amazed them, but it helped them to perceive and respond to God in real and practical ways.

Creation, Butterflies, Wife

This perspective from the life of Jesus brings us back to Lucia’s science experiment. Who would have thought that God would “show up” in my marriage by watching caterpillars transform into butterflies?

Initially, we set up the milkweed plants in the dining room. The plants continued to grow as the caterpillars grazed on their vegetation. It was about a month before they spun their little tents—chrysalises

The caterpillars stayed in their little chrysalis cocoons for several days—about five–and then began, one by one, to transform into beautiful Monarch butterflies. They were gorgeous, bright, and full of life.

The thing that was so stunning to me was the 30-minutes between coming out of the chrysalis and their taking flight. During this interim period, the butterflies were slightly shriveled, wrinkled, and moist.

They were not quite wadded up, but they were diminutive compared to their Creator’s final design. Though all of them did not respond the same—depending on where they spun their chrysalises—there was one butterfly who came out of its “shell” just under the warmth of the grow-light.

Warming Butterflies

When she came out of her chrysalis, the warmth of the light greeted her. The soothing heat had drawing power. It was interesting to watch how the warmth of the grow light helped the butterfly. The warmth of the light smoothed out her wrinkled wings and warmed her to where she could spread her glorious silky wings and take flight.

It was in this mundane moment where God pointed me to His Word and pierced my heart. Just as Christ directed his disciples to the birds of the air and began to teach them beautiful spiritual truths, the Father was teaching me about my marriage.

For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church. – Ephesians 5:29

The word “nourish” means “to grow.” The word “cherish” means “to warm.” Boom! In that mundane moment, the concrete plant kingdom connected to my spiritual, human realm, and I saw it. My responsibilities before God and to my wife were as plain as day. I intuitively knew that I had a duty to warm and grow my wife.

I am to provide for her a context of grace where she can mature and take flight. Earlier in the Ephesians text, Paul talked about how the church had no wrinkles or spots. He was using this truth to teach and direct us about the great possibilities and adventures in marriage.

Our Monarch butterfly came out of the chrysalis wrinkled, damp, and not quite all God intended. Our wives came to us similarly—imperfect. It is our job to cooperate with the Lord by shepherding our wives to help them be all God intended.

Though a wife can enjoy, benefit, and mature in her relationship with God without the help of her husband or in spite of him, she will never fully realize all that she can be because there are benefits in a marriage that neither spouse can attain without the cooperation of the other partner.

You Receive Your Reward

So that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. – Ephesians 5:27

It is every husband’s job to love, warm, grow, teach, lead, and serve his wife so that he can present to himself the work of his leadership. Do you see in the text where Christ will present to Himself the work of His hands?

Through my leadership, I can cause my wife to enfold into the worst version of herself, or I can cooperate with the Lord to help her spread her wings like never before and take flight for the glory of God.

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. – 1 Peter 3:7

Call to Action

In marriage counseling, one of the objective pieces of evidence of a man’s leadership is the countenance, attitude, and overall condition of the wife.

  • Does she bask and flutter in the warmth of her husband’s leadership?
  • Or, is she gnarled, confused, twisted, angered, and despairing?

The church reflects the work of Christ. And a wife will react positively or negatively to the work of her husband. While he can be the “employee of the month” on the job, the real test is how he leads and serves his wife in the home.

  1. Are you hindering or helping your wife to benefit from and enjoy her fullest experience of Christ, specifically through your marriage?
  2. Is she anxious or guarded when around you or open and willing to be vulnerable?
  3. If you can talk to her about this article and have her answer these questions without her worrying about your response, you’re doing well. If you cannot speak to her about this article, you need marriage help.
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