Today’s Scripture: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. Hebrews 10:25

Unlike most members of the animal realm, the Monarch Butterfly has a multi-generational migration pattern. It takes three butterfly generations to fly from Mexico, across the United States, and into Canada, and then one more “super-generation” for the swarm to return to Mexico for the winter. The Monarchs follow the path of the milkweed plants, which provide them with food and shelter from predators.

Now, let’s create an imaginary Monarch Butterfly named Jeremy. Can you imagine what would happen if Jeremy were to grow dissatisfied with his life? Maybe he’s feeling lazy and doesn’t want a hard life of migration, or perhaps the swarm made some decision with which he disagreed. Whatever the issue, Jeremy refuses to deal with it and instead lets it boil and fester. It begins to drive wedges between himself and everyone else. Eventually, the problem gets so bad that Jeremy decides to leave the swarm and strike out on his own.

Jeremy has all sorts of excuses for why he’s leaving the swarm. He says things like: “You expect too much of me around here.”; “I don’t like the direction that things are going.”; “My children need more stability and better programs.” or “Our leader is a real slave-driver. Who does he think he is asking us to move around so much?”

The other butterflies beg and plead with Jeremy not to leave, but his mind is determined. Armed with a league of excuses, Jeremy leaves the protection of the swarm and strikes out on his own. He settles down into what is sure to be an easier life without all of that migration nonsense. For a while, he seems happy and his family is doing well.

A short while later, however, it’s a different story. The milkweed plants are no longer in season. Without any food supply, Jeremy is left weak and defenseless. While the rest of his swarm has moved on and is flourishing, Jeremy has become the lunch of a hungry praying mantis.

Christian, no matter what excuse there is for leaving your church, it is not good enough. The church is God’s mechanism for worship, instruction, teaching, and guidance. Without its protection, you will place yourself in very dangerous territory and make yourself easy pickings for Satan, who walks about as a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. Don’t excuse your way into destruction. Stick with your congregation and you’ll find the blessings of God in your life.

Devotional by Pastor C.J. Armstrong