It’s okay for a grandmother to pray for her granddaughter to catch a butterfly, right? I hope so, because I did. Our budding scientist received a butterfly net as a birthday gift and she was trying hard to catch one of the insects while spending the afternoon with me. Efforts at her house had failed.
She wanted so desperately to capture one and then release it. That’s why I prayed. I wanted her to be delighted by the fragile and beautiful creation she longed to study.
This precious girl first swooped the net in the air as she chased the winged creatures around the yard. Then, she concentrated on a wiser approach. She tiptoed around the lantana bush and carefully slipped her net over the unsuspecting insects when they landed on a flower. Six butterflies managed to escape Houdini-style, unharmed.
Finally, the aimed whoosh of the net and persistence yielded success! The spotted orange butterfly didn’t fly quite fast enough. Victory for our girl! She transferred the insect to a bug keeper and observed it through a magnifying glass. After sketching him in her science log and admiring him, she opened the container and offered him freedom. (Had I not known her gentle nature and love of all created things, I wouldn’t have encouraged this effort.)
As I reflected on my granddaughter’s diligent search and the thrill of discovery, I thought about what I seek each day. As I pursue my dreams, check off my to-do list, and attempt to steward the gifts and responsibilities God gave me, what am I trying to capture? What do I want most?
By way of confession, in recent days my major aim became accomplishing tasks on that never-ending to-do list. Frustration and anxiety filled the quiet places of my heart because I couldn’t seem to get things done.
Although I prayed and read my Bible, I became distracted by everything that fluttered by and failed to set my aim on what mattered most—my walk with Jesus. At the end of each day, my net was empty. There was nothing to show for my efforts.
God promises His help in Isaiah 43:13.
For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand;
it is I who say to you, ‘Fear not, I am the one who helps you.’
But I wasn’t experiencing guidance and peace. I wondered, “Why not?”
My loving Lord reminded me to seek Him—not just the answers to my prayer requests–but Him. His presence.
Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!
–1 Chronicles 16:11
I wanted God to capture my attention, my thoughts, and my heart. I longed for awareness of His presence as David did in the wilderness when he penned these words:
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
We can pray throughout the day wherever we are, but yesterday, I needed time alone with Him. A lot of time. After asking a dear friend to pray for me, I cleared my calendar and spent the day reading the Word, talking to God, and listening for His voice. I took deep breaths, sang His praises, knelt to pray, and prayed as I walked.
I pictured Him as the Shepherd He is, guiding and protecting me. Instead of following my plan, I began to seek His. He restored my soul and allowed me to capture His love, His peace, His guidance, and most of all, His presence.
Does daily life sometimes distract you from what you want to grasp? Please share the ways God leads you to focus on Him.