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God’s Remnants, Our Hope

Plump green, yellow, and black. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I ran to the fence, calling my wife to join me to see this incredible thing I literally stumbled across.

Convincing her to come to the front yard without explanation is always a feat of persuasion. Finally convincing her to come see this wondrous thing, I went to the house door and called the two boys. The discovery warranted a family investigation and celebration. 

We converged on the tiny island of plants in the front yard. Proudly I pointed to the leaves of one of the plants. “Look!” They looked and saw nothing.

It was gone. The monarch caterpillar I had discovered on the Michigan native milkweed we had planted in our yard was gone. NO! I knew I had seen it. The leaves had been chewed, the evidence was there. Where had it gone?!

We stepped lightly, scanning the mulch bed for an out-of-place splash of color in the shredded brown wood, fearful of stepping on the precious creature.

It had been a hard summer for the Monarch butterfly. In July, they had officially been moved to the endangered species list. We had seen, or rather hadn’t seen, the tangible evidence of this. Our summer search on the underside of milkweed leaves had been fruitless. Previous years had seen dozens of eggs come home with us to grow into caterpillars and then Monarchs. Taking them home gives them a strong fighting chance of becoming the next generation of butterflies. 

So far this year, we hadn’t found a single Monarch egg or caterpillar.

Making things worse, we had planted some native milkweed in our landscaping in the slim hope of enticing a Monarch to land and lay her egg. The plants also provide food for the hatched caterpillar to eat—Monarch caterpillars only eat milkweed. But animals continued to dig up the tender young plants. Only a few survived to maturity.  

Finally, there, laying at the base of the milkweed, curled into a self-protective ball, was the Monarch caterpillar. In my excitement to call the others, I had knocked it from the plant—probably an object lesson there, but that would be a different article. We got our butterfly enclosure ready with some freshly clipped milkweed and carefully scooped up the caterpillar and placed it inside. 

Less than three weeks later, we snapped photos as the newly emerged Monarch butterfly unfurled its wings to dry. An hour or so later, it took flight from the finger of one of our boys.

Image: J.R. Hudberg

That single Monarch reminded me that God leaves a remnant. The remnant was something that gave Israel hope in days past. The remnant was a portion that remained to experience and demonstrate God’s faithfulness. Even when things looked dire, God would speak of the waiting remnant. Those who by their very existence displayed God’s faithfulness and future plans. 

It can be hard to see hope. By its very nature it is not something to be seen itself. But we can see reasons to hope. In the face of dwindling numbers, we can stumble on one that remains and remember that not all is lost. In our own lives, when things seem hopeless, we can look around us and see evidence of God’s faithfulness and goodness. 

The remnant is a symbol of hope. A hint that the story is not yet finished. God is still writing his story. You and I still have a part to play. He is not finished with the remnant of his good creation.

·      Are you facing a situation where there seems to be no hope of redemption? How can you remind yourself that God is not done telling his story?

·      Look around you, what evidence can you see of God’s faithfulness, what remnant can you find?

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