Outside my local grocery store, I stepped up to take a shopping cart from the long row. And there it was. The magnificent swallowtail butterfly struggled, fluttering madly against the plate glass window, only inches inside the alcove where the carts waited. A young man—an employee—stood nearby, disinfecting the carts against coronavirus, seemingly unaware of the thrashing wings.

“Poor thing! It’s stuck there!”

“Oh, he’ll find his way out.” The young man seemed confident.

I wasn’t so sure about that. And I knew what had to be done. I had to rescue it. Fluttering my own hands near the glass, near the yellow wings but not near enough to harm, I nudged it ever so delicately along the glass and toward the wide brick post around which freedom could be found.

The insect took no notice of my offered assistance. Or rather, it must have viewed me as a threat because it fluttered a bit higher as if to escape my reach.

“No, no! Not that way! Here! Go this way and be free!” I persisted, nudged it away from the glass so the way around the brick became clear.

Suddenly, my butterfly (yes, mine!) saw the way out. The passage around. The way was clear, and it fluttered away, free on the breeze.

What a relief. To the insect. To me. Even to the young man.

“You did it. You saved him!”

“Yeah, I guess I did.” I thanked him for the clean cart and proceeded inside—but the image of a yellow butterfly battling against an invisible blockade stayed in my mind.

How many times have I found myself in that butterfly’s situation? Striving, struggling against something—something that held me back. Something I couldn’t even identify.

I realize I’m not the only one. How many times do we not even recognize that we need a bit of help—even if it’s just a little push in the right direction?

And what does it take? Someone to come alongside, to encourage, to nudge gently. A friend who prays. One who gives wise counsel. A mentor.

But there’s something else. All the prayers, all the nudges, all the guidance: none of it matters until we are open to receiving help.

Whether you’re in the position to give help or to receive it, I hope you’ll think on this verse. I hope it makes a difference for you today.

Listen to counsel and accept discipline,
That you may be wise the rest of your days.
Many plans are in a man’s heart,
But the counsel of the Lord will stand.
—Proverbs 19:20–21 (NASB)

Cover Photo by Krzysztof Niewolny on Unsplash