Will you help me for the next few minutes to think about a strange couple of topics? Don’t click away when you hear this, but I believe that God wants to teach us something powerful and permanent as we look at angels, mayflies, and butterflies.
We’ll start with angels. The angelic beings have life spans that (SO FAR) have existed as long as the earth has been around.
Michael the archangel, for example, is specifically mentioned by name in Jude as disputing with the devil over the body of Moses. That would be approximately 1400 years B.C. (before Christ was born). He reappears in the Book of Daniel in approximately 536 B.C., where once again he is fighting on behalf of the Lord’s people.
Finally, he is referred to in the Book of Revelation, in a passage that may have been a “flashback” or may refer to a time yet to come in history. Either way, it is obvious that his involvement and interaction with humans has spanned centuries.
It’s the same for the angel whose name is Gabriel. He brings a message to Daniel in the sixth century before Christ, and then He delivers the good news of the imminent birth of Jesus to Mary.
We have no record of what Michael or Gabriel were doing in the intervening centuries, or in fact, what they are doing today. But the fact remains: their “life span” seems to be as old as the earth itself.
We really can’t grasp what it must be like to see centuries come and go, to personally be eyewitnesses as human civilizations rise from the dust to become world conquerors, and then return to dust, only to be uncovered by archeologists thousands of years later.
We know that angels are not eternal beings in the sense of having no beginning. God Himself created them; Jesus Himself was present at their creation; the Holy Spirit Himself took part in that creation. God has ALWAYS existed … even before time as we know it began. The angels that He created as His servants, however, had a definite beginning, although they seem to have endless life on into the future.
Compared to angels, our individual human life spans are like the tiny fly known as the mayfly. The female of that species lives in adult stage for less than FIVE MINUTES, during which she mates, lays eggs, and dies! Five minutes!!
IMAGINE, IF YOU CAN, HOW INEXPLICABLE IT WOULD HAVE BEEN TO THE ANGELIC SPECIES TO LEARN THAT GOD THE SON INTENDED TO SETTLE INTO HUMAN FLESH AND TO EXPERIENCE THAT “MAYFLY” MORTALITY IN ORDER TO SAVE US.
As Peter told us, angels have a burning desire to understand these things (1 Peter 1:12).
Compared to angelic beings, our human lives HERE ON EARTH are like the mayfly’s in length.
But we are reverently approaching a huge mystery, because the Bible is clear that our lives also are eternal. Yes, we grow old here on earth and die; but for those who believe in Jesus, this is more like the death of the caterpillar (which is actually just the end of the larval stage) than the death of the butterfly.
Listen to 1 John 3:2: “Beloved, we are God’s children right now; however, it is not yet apparent what we will become. But we do know that when it is finally made visible, we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He truly is.”
Our lives here on earth are like a mist, God said. Like a vapor that appears in the morning, but is gone by the time the sun rises.
But that is not the end of our story!
I would say that our entire existence here on earth is almost like the larval stage of what we will become in eternity. If you could shrink yourself down to the size of a caterpillar, crawl up next to one and point up into the sky at a butterfly, its tiny mind would have NO WAY of ever knowing that you were pointing at its future.
In another sense, our eternal life has already begun. God has granted us the capacity (in this early stage of our forever-life) to wield unimaginable power.
That curtain is pulled back when we look at Michael’s appearance in the book of Daniel, chapter 10.
Daniel (just a short-lived human, like you and me) began to pray for God to help him understand what God had been revealing to him about the future. The Scripture tells us that from the moment that Daniel began to pray, God instructed an angel to fly to Daniel’s side with an answer to his prayer.
The forces of our enemy resisted that angel’s effort to get to Daniel for 21 days, until Michael arrived and turned the tide of the battle.
And because Daniel persisted in fasting and prayer for those 21 days, we have the prophecies of Daniel to guide us into the future!
We may have a mayfly’s life span, compared to angelic beings, but we have something else: a sort of spiritual butterfly effect!
The scientific principle referred to as the “butterfly effect” was discovered in 1961 when a scientist named Edward Lorenz was inputting data into his computer to predict the weather patterns for the next six months. He entered the figures and ran his program, and it spit out a prediction about the weather. Then he decided, just to be on the safe side, to run the figures again.
He entered the data into the computer and went to have a cup of coffee while it was working on the complex formulas necessary to predict the weather. When he returned, he was shocked to see that the weather prediction was completely different than the first answer the computer had given him!
After careful investigation, Lorenz was in for a shock: When he re-entered the data for the second computer run, he had rounded off one of the hundreds of numbers. In the first run he had keyed “0.506127,” and in the second run he had simply entered “0.506.” It seemed crazy to believe that the TINY difference between those two numbers could have resulted in such a tremendously different weather forecast for the next months! But it was proven by rigorous testing.
When he described what happened that day, Lorenz said that it was as if the beating of a butterfly’s wings could change the direction of a tiny puff of wind, which changed the direction (ever so slightly) of a breeze, which affected the movement of a wind, which resulted months or years down the line in a different weather pattern that caused a tornado where one would otherwise not have appeared — the “butterfly effect.”
WHY DO I “WASTE YOUR TIME” WITH THIS DIVERSION INTO THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT?
Because we are living examples of that, in the spiritual realm.
YOU, right there where you are, can puff some air in prayer to God about something, which will move levers in the unseen realm like Daniel praying for insight, which moved angels at God’s command and altered history.
By God’s design, we (you and I!) can release power through prayer that reverberates across centuries and into eternity!!
WE WILL BE BLOWN AWAY SOMEDAY AT HOW MUCH POWER WAS RELEASED BY GOD THROUGH “tiny, short-lived little us” pushing prayer buttons, so to speak.
I know that the Bible is right when it says that now we are God’s children, and it has not yet appeared to us what we will be. But I also believe with all of my heart that right here and now (with our mayfly life spans and our limited understanding), we can begin to wield influence over the rest of eternity through the levers of prayer.
God has granted that it is so.
Brothers and sisters, let’s begin to flex our wings in prayer. Let’s begin to alter the future by interceding to God for the lost people around us, for the Lord’s will to be done in world affairs, and for His kingdom to come.
Only the spotlight of eternity will reveal what tremendous changes took place in our world by small people in small places spreading their hands out before their Lord in prayer.
Let’s join them.
Here’s a place to start: Pray with me that God will guide our deliberations at SHIFT Conference in a couple of weeks, and that by His grace, events will be set in motion there that will echo down through eternity. Who knows what “butterfly effect” our small actions there will bring?