Just over a year ago, I was aboard a cruise ship floating on the Caribbean seas. I am a known wanderer on ships in search of what they have to offer, as well as to satisfy a natural curiosity. The engineering that goes into the design of these massive vessels is extraordinary and I often marvel at the workmanship. It is amazing how they function and navigate the narrow channels and shallow passageways. Genius is one word that comes to mind.
In the evening, we left the shores of one of the countries. I made my usual rounds across the upper decks, in search of great pictures to take of the departing scenery. I walked toward the rear of the ship, behind one of the large stacks that protrudes upward out of the ship. It had large steel vents covering one area of the wall, where air entered. It was like a giant vacuum, sucking air into the vents.
To my dismay, I saw at least a hundred butterflies stuck to the vents. The vacuum was not that strong, but enough that some could not overcome the force. I saw a woman walk up close to a vent and stop to observe. Then she reached out her hands and gently pulled one of the butterflies off of the vent. She released it and I watched it fly away. From the moment I saw a life was spared, I joined in. Her and I spent the next twenty minutes or so freeing the butterflies from a doomed fate.
Many were spared, but sadly not all of them made it. We celebrated the lives of the ones who did. A most interesting thing happened during this process. Some released would fly quickly away from the danger they were rescued from. Others, despite the mercy exercised to free them, flew right back into danger. At one point I grew frustrated with some of them, who repeatedly got ensnared. Even when I walked far away and released them, they were drawn back like a magnet.
I muttered words beneath my breath. Come on man, I am trying to set you free! Why do you keep falling for this? This is bad for you! Then, it felt as if God shared a few thoughts with me. It feels amazing to deliver one from peril but isn’t it frustrating and sad to see them jump right back into the mess you rescued them from? In a silent prayer, I said, “Yes, Lord, I get it.“
The further we got from land, many of the butterflies decided to stay behind. Others, of the adventurous sort, set sail with us to another country. One lesson I learned from a hundred butterflies, is that it’s easy to fall into a trap, even repeatedly into the same one. In my case, it is sin. But as grace would have it, there is a redeemer out there who yearns to set me free.