Through the forest, past the twisting, singing brook, beyond the dancing vines and under the mossy ridge of a fallen oak tree sat a tiny caterpillar. She was green, like most caterpillars, and she had the most delightful smattering of freckles that seemed to cheerfully shimmy down her fuzzy back. She, having no memory of where she came from or who she was to be, was content to travel around her small area of the forest, admiring the beauty all around her.
One of her favorite places to sit was near a little grove of spring flowers, where the butterflies met each day, showing off their amazing colors and their graceful ways. The caterpillar did run across other animals who seemed useful or nice, but the butterflies were her absolute favorite. Soon she became completely obsessed with butterflies. She determined that they were the only animals in the forest who really mattered because, after all, what could be more important than being beautiful? They brought so much glory to God with their gorgeous colors and their special ways. She thanked God for blessing the world with such beauty, and she prayed that one day He would turn her into one of these lovely creatures, admired by all for her colors, her grace, her beauty.
The little caterpillar could hardly wait to grow up, so sure as she was that she would someday become a gorgeous butterfly. Finally, the day arrived and she closed herself up into her snug cocoon. She was so warm and cozy, and she fell asleep dreaming of the brightly colored wings that she would soon be able to show off down at the flower grove.
At last she awoke from her big sleep, and she could tell that she had grown up. She began to wiggle and push her way out of her little room, in such a hurry to race to the brook and see her beautiful new self in its shiny surface. As she tried out her new wings, she was amazed by how fast she was, how lovely she already felt, and how much God must love her to create her this way, with a butterfly destiny. When she made it to the brook, she stopped short of the water, landing on the bank and bracing herself for the incredible beauty that she was about to behold. She inched one delicate foot forward, then another. Finally, she looked at her reflection.
She watched her own face as its expression shifted from excitement to shock to anger. Where were the beautiful colors that she had felt destined for? She was brown. Not just brown, but ten shades of brown. Brown like dirt. Like dusty cobwebs. Like all of the non-beautiful, boring, plain jane things in the forest. She thought God was going to bless her with amazing beauty, grace, butterfly talent, but what she got was just okay. Sure, she had wings. Brown ones. Sure, she could fly. Big deal. She could never go to the spring flower grove looking like this! She was not a glittering butterfly. She was a moth. Yes, she had to admit it. She was a tiny, doesn’t-matter-to-anyone, brown, ugly, nuisance. This is who she grew up to be. How could she be of any use to God now? She really didn’t understand why He had made her this way.
So, she asked Him.
And He answered, in His patient way: “My sweet little one, let me show you how I see you.”
Hopeful, the moth looked into the water once more, and she could hardly believe her eyes. She looked…exactly the same. The same tiny brown wings. The same boring shades of beige and tan and ecru and eggshell. The same lack of beauty. The same unremarkable form that she had been so disappointed by just moments before. She didn’t understand.
“Don’t you see?” the Lord whispered in the breezes that swirled around her ruffled wings. “I made the rich brown earth where flowers dazzle the eye and where tiny earthworms tunnel their intricate paths. I made the fuzzy spiders in the forest who decorate the trees with their exquisite webs. I made the fine grey mist that covers the craggly tops of mountains. I made the mud puddles where happy birds splash after a rainstorm.”
The little moth did love the grey misty mornings. She did enjoy watching her feathered friends play after a rain shower. Mud puddles aren’t bright and beautiful. Earthworms certainly don’t shimmer in the sunlight the way butterflies do. Yet, God made them. Could it be that mud and mist and spider webs and earthworms and even little brown moths can bring God glory, too?
“When I look at you,” the Lord whispered, “I see YOU, just as I made you. My creation. And I say: very good.”
Just then, a bouncing black bug landed on the water, breaking up the little moth’s reflection into dozens of ripples. She thought about what God had said. When the water stilled again, she noticed for the first time the intricate patterns etched in brown on her delicate wings. She noticed the cute little spots of white that splashed across her back. She saw how God had made one of her tiny antenna slightly longer than the other, and she giggled at the way her teensy mouth turned down at the corners just slightly. The longer she looked at her reflection, the more she began to see the hand of God in the unique way that He had formed her, with love and care and creativity.
Suddenly she felt blessed to be here, in this beautiful forest, just a little brown moth with wings, small as they were, to carry her from place to place.
If you travel to the forest you may see the little moth, although you probably won’t notice her. She still enjoys watching the butterflies at the grove of spring flowers. But, she doesn’t have much time to sit and admire them anymore. She is too busy doing the special jobs that God gave her. She learned that she doesn’t have to be red or blue or shimmery purple to bring glory to her Creator. She is exactly the size, shape, and color that He wanted her to be, and when He looks at her, He loves what He sees. Now when she slows down for just a moment and catches a glimpse of herself in the brook, the little brown moth can’t help but smile. She remembers God’s words and repeats them happily to her reflection: “Very good.”