I spotted this monarch butterfly while on my daily walk on a horse path above Refuge Ranch in Mexico (where Diann and I live part of the year to be near our missionary daughter and her family). This butterfly had likely traveled over 2,000 miles from somewhere in the U.S. or Canada. Every year millions of butterflies make this miraculous migration to the state of Michoacan in Mexico where they winter. The problem for this butterfly is that he was about 200 miles off course!
What’s amazing, however, is that millions make this pilgrimage, though they are four or five generations removed from the butterflies who made the trip the year before. Many others of God’s creatures also migrate, but it was this monarch who put me in awe, all over again, of the instincts God has put into His creatures.
God has also put an instinct for migration into our hearts and souls. The story of humanity is a story, in part, of people traveling to new places: think of the early pioneers moving to the western United States. It’s amazing how many novels and movies have a significant journey as the plot.
Part of this human instinct for traveling is a strong urge for taking a spiritual pilgrimage. We have been created with a God-shaped vacuum which only God can fill. As Augustine wrote centuries ago, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in You.” We find ourselves searching for God, spiritual seekers are how people often describe themselves. Much like the monarch we have a yearning to journey from the winter and cold of this fallen world to the warmth and sunshine of God’s presence.
Like the monarch I photographed, we can lose our way, or even choose a different way. We migrate to food, alcohol, vacations, drugs, work, pornography, entertainment, sleep and all other kinds of destinations (some good, some bad, but none being the Ultimate Good). God’s put within us the need for Him most of all. We just need to follow our instinct!
“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.” (Psalm 84:5)