Friday, 06 April 2018 08:40

Sunlight and Butterfly Dust

Written by  Sam Whatley
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Butterflies are beautiful, but fragile. In fact, it has been said that if you touch a butterfly’s wings the creature may actually die. In the past few years, biologists have discovered why that’s true. If you catch a butterfly and release it, you will see a bright yellow or green iridescent dust on your hand. That shining dust is critical to the butterfly’s ability to fly. Without it, it cannot live.


What scientists in California and Germany discovered in 2017 was that this dust is not really dust at all, but thousands upon thousands of thin, microscopic solar cells. The ribs in each butterfly’s wings are really elaborate solar panels that provide radiant heat to the creature and dazzling color to our world. And within every panel, each cell is different in size, shape, and angle to maximize the absorption of light. But wait, solar panels? Why solar panels?


Butterflies only fly when their body temperature is at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit. But, being cold-blooded animals, their internal temperature corresponds to the air above them. Thus, the need for external heat. When a butterfly hangs onto a leaf with its wings outstretched, it is storing up energy. It is stoking its internal furnace and fueling up for flight. So, even if it is only 70 degrees on a spring day, you may still see a butterfly pollinating from flower to flower on energy harvested from the sun.


It reminds me of a passage from Paul’s letter to the Romans: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (Romans 1:24) NIV.


None of us can fully comprehend the intricate design of the butterfly or any of the thousands of species around us. But if we look closely at ourselves or any other creature, we have no excuse for not worshipping the God who created us. How can we ever doubt that God designs, maintains, and cares for us all? One would think scientists, of all people, would be the most devout followers of Christ.


Butterflies are beautiful, but they are not just for show. While those little wispy creatures shimmer in the sunlight and decorate our gardens with color, they are pollinating our flowers and crops. They are literally spreading life everywhere they go.


And so should we. God has put within those of us who have placed our faith in Him, hope, love, peace, joy and a thousand other blessings that reflect the glow of His love. As we spend time with Him in prayer and in His Word, we store up the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We then have the energy to reflect that radiance to everyone around us. We can bring hope and love to people in a dark and lonely world, where everyone needs Someone to believe in.


Paul said it this way to the church in Philippi: “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life” (Philippians 2:14 – 16) NIV.


That’s our job, to bring light and hope to our little corner of God’s garden. He has made each of us differently and yet we all have a place in His plan. And He provides the strength, patience, and courage we need to reach those around us.


Our Creator is the Light of the world. We can choose to reflect that Light in our daily lives, not in our own power, but in the power of His Spirit.


In the words of the psalmist: “For you make me glad by your deeds, O LORD; I sing for joy at the works of your hands. How great are your works, O LORD, how profound your thoughts!” (Psalm 92:4-5) NIV.


What a joy to be part of God’s creation. What a joy to join with Christ in bringing light and life to our world. And to think we could learn all this from a butterfly.



**Sam Whatley’s latest book, Ponder Anew, is now available at the Frazer Bookstore located inside Frazer Memorial UMC.




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