I love butterflies. In fact, this past year, I started a small butterfly garden in our backyard.  I planted the vegetation necessary to attract Monarch butterflies which lay eggs, hatching as caterpillars, going into pupa stage and metamorphosis, emerging as butterflies. Just a few days ago, I saw two new butterflies taking their first flutters outside our master bedroom window. It was satisfyingly beautiful to watch our effect on the Monarch butterfly population.

Have you heard about the “Butterfly Effect?” No, not the 2004 science-fiction movie. I’m referring to the idea that started with Edward Lorenz, a meteorology professor at MIT. He entered some numbers into a computer program simulating weather patterns and then left his office to get a cup of coffee while the machine ran. When he returned, he noticed a result that would change the course of science. 

You can research the details of the “butterfly effect” but the gist is that the flutter of a butterfly’s wings could ultimately result in a tornado at the very end of a multiplying sequence of chaos and randomness. While not as linear and predictable, there are similarities to a stone that is dropped in a pond. There is a ripple effect of one action leading to a disproportionate reaction.  Allow me to share a personal story about this multiplied impact.

We saw butterflies in motion a couple days ago.  My wife and I were on a two-person mission trip. We were using a diesel truck to pull a large “shower” trailer from our southwest Florida community to southern Alabama. It was the first leg of a “Diesel Express” relay journey to get this trailer owned by Fellowship of Christian Farmers to Iowa where their disaster relief volunteer teams are being mobilized to go assist tornado victims. It had been parked in Florida the last 18 months to assist volunteer teams who had assisted after the devastation of Hurricane Ian. We had one of four trailer tires disintegrate about 500 miles into our 600+ mile trip. That’s when the butterflies appeared.

We were stopped at a remote rural gas station parking lot. I had already jacked up the trailer and taken the old rim with its shredded remnants of a tire off in the 94-degree humid heat of late afternoon. I had the spare tire ready to go on but, even with two stacked blocks of wood, I couldn’t get the jack quite high enough to get the inflated spare on to the hub. That’s when three “butterflies” showed up. Young men in their 20’s. Christian, Harrison and Lawson. Lawson asked, “Do you need help?” I said “yes.” And they went to work.

The conversation was far deeper than finding solutions to getting the new tire on. They wanted to know about the Fellowship of Christian Farmers and where the trailer was going and why.  They wanted to know what I did for work. I found out they were on their way home from an overnight kayaking trip. I discovered they became friends at a church youth group in nearby Crestview, FL. They found out that helping me change a tire was ultimately going to impact farmers in Iowa who were going to get much-needed help in recovering from the destruction of recent tornados. Volunteers from across the country were coming to Iowa to help and they would have a place to shower and clean up after a long day of work before they went to sleep on a cot in a church. These three “butterflies” were not creating a tornado but the movement of their wings was generating healing from a tornado. The ultimate “butterfly effect.”

It was a divine appointment for them and for us. Their stop at a gas station at the end of a float down the river, had turned into their own mission trip. They realized they were serving the people of Iowa by taking less than an hour of their time to help us get the shower trailer back on the road, headed toward its ultimate destination of service. And it was a definite answer of prayer for my wife who was watching her 70-year old husband kneeling and sweating on the ground in brutal Florida summer heat. Thank you Christian, Harrison and Lawson for living out your faith in Jesus by being His hands and feet when you saw a need. My wife and I were reminded that the next generations behind us are filled with servants who will bring hope and healing to their generation and the generations after them. God is good. And butterflies are beautiful!

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