Summer is here! Which means that we get to see beautiful, unique things that only come out during the summer. No, I am not talking about Hawaiian shirts, sunburns, and way too many backyard barbeques to keep up with! What I am thinking of is small, lovely, and starts out as one thing but then turns into another.
Can you guess it??
Yes, a butterfly!
Butterflies are unique to summer and spring time. They start their lives as tiny caterpillars and after a period of hard-core napping, aka cocooning, caterpillars drop the awkward “worm-like” look and morph into an enchanting butterfly.
Speaking of butterflies…
Have you ever heard of the butterfly effect? The Harvard- sounding, smart definition of the butterfly effect is:
“In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.”
Basically…the butterfly effect states that all choices have consequences (good or bad!). A decision, even as small as the beat of a butterfly’s wings, can have a lasting impact or make a big difference (good or bad!).
Have you ever made a decision that at the time was a “small choice” but ended up making a big difference?
I know I have! I remember that in the 8th grade I decided I did not want to go to my high school in the fall. I had always dreamed of going to Lehigh Valley School of the Performing Arts. It was a big deal to me! This high school was dedicated to acting, singing, and dancing. Students who studied and graduated from LVPA went on to Broadway, TV, movies, and national tours. I auditioned and was accepted to start as an acting student in the fall of 2008. Woohoo! I was SO excited! The only thing I had to do was mail in a piece of paper where I either marked A) will attend LVPA or B) will not attend LVPA. Even though I was super pumped about going to a performing arts school, I never filled out the paper for months and months. Finally, I realized that I was reaching the deadline and I had to mail in that simple paper marking that I would go to LVPA. The last day I had to fill it out was an interesting day. I woke up, went to the fridge, and saw the confirmation paper stuck in the fridge waiting for me to fill it out and mail it. I took the paper down, grabbed a pen and marked the box: B) will not go to LVPA.
Crazy, right? Well, not so much…you see God had a plan that started the moment I decided to mark the “B” box instead of the “A” box. The choice was mine to make, though. There was no profound reason why I decided not to go to Lehigh Valley School of the Performing Arts. Nothing major happened that caused me to change my mind. All I had was a gut feeling that morning and a ton of peace about choosing not to go to performing arts school. It was, in every way, a butterfly decision. A small choice that had major aftermath.
Looking back, I know that it was God who slowly but surely nudged me to not go to LVPA. It was Him who gave me the “gut” feeling that was strong enough to cause me to put my dream of acting school on “hold.” If I hadn’t made that butterfly choice, if I actually went to LVPA, my life would have turned out wwaayy different. Because I chose not to attend the school, I went to Pocono Mountain East High School where I had really wonderful opportunities, where I found a terrific job, where I met my one-day college roommate, where I decided to go to Messiah College, where my faith was challenged, where my education was valued, and where I got to know the man I would one day marry.
Butterfly effects are real. Think about your life and the lives of your parents and family members. With God there are no coincidences. Everything happens for a reason, and every choice we make (even the small ones) can make a big difference.
You will make a lot of choices throughout your life. Some choices are huge and others are small. You chose to read this devotional, you chose what to eat today, what to wear, etc. One day you will choose what to eat and what to wear again, but you will also choose what career to pursue, who to marry, where to live, what to study, and many other decisions along the way!
God is a loving God who gives us free-will. He has a plan for each and every one of us, a wonderful plan that he designed specifically for us before we were even born!
Read Jeremiah 29:11
Read Psalm 113:13-16
God see’s all and knows all, including every single detail about you! What makes God really cool is that He still gives us choices. It would be a pretty boring life if God made all the choices for us! Right? The way I see it, is He gives us choices (He already knows what we will choose, but still let’s us choose). Whatever choices you make God will go with you, He will stay with you, He won’t leave your side even if you make the “wrong” choice.
Read Deuteronomy 31:8
Read Isaiah 41:10-13
Can you think of a time where you felt God’s presence in your life? An example where you knew He was with you?
Okay, but what if I make the “wrong” choice?
Nobody is perfect, we live in a sinful world where we are tempted and sometimes give in to sin. Jesus was the only person who lived a sinless life.
This doesn’t mean we should take advantage of grace and make bad choices with the thought, “It’s okay, God will forgive me.” Seriously, we’ve all done that…but don’t do it. It leads to unnecessary problems that God is always trying to protect us from!
Nothing you do can make God love you less. No choice you make will make God decide to stop choosing you! He is always pursuing us, loving us, and choosing us. We know this because, for example, look at what He did on the cross. Jesus chose to die on the cross on Your behalf. Because Jesus did that, you have forgiveness, freedom, and access to God and one day an eternity in heaven with Him! That’s not all Jesus did, He rose up from the dead to prove that His promises come true, and that He is in fact our savior, friend, and redeemer. How awesome is that someone gave their for you and then rose from the dead to keep pursuing you!? Only Jesus can do that, folks.
The most important decision you can and will ever make is to follow Jesus. Following Him impacts everything. Choosing to chase after Jesus influences not only your life, but the lives of everyone around you. Following God causes a HUGE butterfly effect in your life. It starts MAJOR metamorphosis! Following God here on Earth has an impact on your life after Earth…aka, heaven.
There are popular Christian song lyrics that say “I don’t wanna gain the whole world, but loose my soul.” Those words are based off of the verse Matthew 16:26. The world is going to throw a lot of choices your way. Be on guard. Be rooted in Christ. Be alert and aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life. You don’t want to choose everything the world offers you and miss out on everything Christ is offering you….trust me!
So, how do you “Be on guard. Be rooted in Christ. Be alert and aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life.” ? A good place to start, especially this summer, is with our 3 S’s of the Summer:
Spend “one on one” time in prayer, journaling, and talking to God. Read His word, a little bit every day. The Gospels are always a great place to start.
Take time to breathe, think, and be genuinely thankful for everything around you! Separate yourself from anxieties, from your phone, from the internet, from anything that distracts you and just Be Still. The Bible says, “The Lord will fight for you, you only need to be still.” God’s got you! Try memorizing a small bible verse, even just one sentence. Then repeat the verse all throughout your day, try to say it one breath. Those are called “breath prayers,” and they are a great way to Be Still.
Be brave, yo! What do you have to lose? What’s the worst that could happen? Speak up, talk about your faith, your testimony and about Jesus to anyone (and everyone!). Maybe it is a conversation with a stranger, a special talk with a family member, encouraging someone, or praying with a friend…the possibilities are endless. Just try it. The summer is a great place to start speaking up about Jesus in your home, church, community, and pretty much anywhere you go. Every time you Speak Up, write it down! It will be really cool to look back on your summer of Speaking Up.
Start a log reflecting on the times you Seek Jesus, Be Still, and Speak Up. Hopefully, you’ll need to move on to more journals or notebooks as the summer goes along!