There was a story in the newspaper some time ago about a town where monarch butterflies spend the winter. Every year they migrate to one particular lot where there are certain trees that they like. But the problem was that the woman who owned the property was planning to sell it to developers who would cut down the trees and build I don’t remember what, thereby depriving the butterflies of their special place and probably condemning them to death. The citizens were being asked to vote money for the town to buy the property and save it for the butterflies. (I seem to recall that the measure passed.)
What is so mysterious is that the monarch butterflies fly each year to a place they have never seen. There seems to be implanted in them the need and the desire for this location and these particular trees, as well as the instinct for arriving there. In fact, the previous ones to winter in those trees are long dead — it is several generations of their grandchildren who make the next trip.
We also have a desire implanted in us — the desire for God. Ordinarily what we long for is something we don’t already have, and it can seem this way with God, too: that we long for God because God is not there.But strangely enough, longing for God is a sign of the divine presence. God is there in our longing. We wouldn’t be longing at all, if God weren’t already present, touching us and implanting in our hearts the desire for the divine. The longing itself draws us toward the one who is truly already with us.
Therefore we can pray, “Come, Lord Jesus!” in confidence and peace, because Emmanuel, “God-with-us,” is present to us and in us as we call to him.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than those who watch for the morning,
more than those who watch for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
and with him is great power to redeem.