Monarch Butterfly
Photo by Peter Miller on Flickr CC BY-NC-ND-2.0

One of the greatest natural events on Earth is now underway: the migration of the monarch butterfly.

Each fall, millions of these colourful insects set off from their summer breeding grounds in the northeastern U.S. and Canada for a gruelling journey. They travel thousands of miles across North America all the way to Mexico, where they’ll spend the winter.

Many people believe that the monarch butterflies which leave in the fall are the same ones which arrive back in the spring, but this isn’t so. Individual butterflies don’t make the entire round-trip journey. The ones which migrate from the northeastern part of North America in fall will never return.

Rather, their great-great-grandchildren are the ones who will arrive the following spring, as successive generations keep making their way north. The entire annual migration cycle of the monarch takes about four generations.

Perhaps I’m being fanciful, but I can imagine monarch butterflies telling their children of the awesome journey they’ll be undertaking. They may say that they’ll only be able to go part of the way with them, but to keep the faith and keep going.

Maybe they encourage their children to tell successive generations to keep believing in the promise of return. Because eventually, their descendants will see the promise fulfilled.

Aren’t we in a similar situation as believers?

We’re living in a time when we’re awaiting the fulfillment of a promise, the promise of Christ’s return. We’re not sure exactly when Christ will come back to Earth, but He has promised that He will.

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:3)

Believers in Old Testament times yearned to see the arrival of their Messiah, but the vast majority died before seeing the birth of Christ.

“For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.” (Matthew 13:17 NIV)

“Simeon in the Temple” by Rembrandt
Photo by Plum leaves on Flickr CC BY-2.0

One man named Simeon, however, was promised that he would live to see the Messiah.

“Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

‘Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.’” (Luke 2:25-32 NIV)

For the past 2,000 years, we’ve been awaiting the return of Jesus Christ. Not all of us will live to see that event, but we should be encouraging each other and our children to keep the faith and keep believing in the promise of Christ’s return.

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God…” (1 Thess. 4:16a)

We may be the generation which sees the promise fulfilled, and witnesses the Second Coming of Christ!

© 2020 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.

One thought on “The Promise of Return

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