The last few days could have wreaked havoc on my heart. Could have, but did not! It is not that I am any more special than anyone else, but perhaps I have learned along the way to not fall captive to what things “appear” to be, but rather to see what I know to be real. I wish I could tell you that life has been a huge party with cake and ice cream, but in those dark moments it is when I have experienced God’s presence and His superabundant grace. In fact those difficult times have taken me out of the HOV fast lane of life and slowed me down to be still and wait for His embrace.
I was sitting in my office and pondering the upcoming Labor Day celebration and the comparison of the “rest” of God. So many friends are laboring. Maybe you can relate. Perhaps you are struggling to believe God for healing, for a prodigal child to return home or maybe life has just thrown a curve ball out of nowhere and you are still stung from the surprise. Whatever that is, I want to share a new perspective to bring hope.
Many years ago when photography was my hobby, macro photography, I photographed a butterfly. It seemed for the next few weeks at every turn there was a butterfly to focus my attention. I began a study on butterflies. It was a surprise to me at the time when I ordered a research book on the subject. But when it arrived and I began to read, it became clear that one day I would use this amazing creature as an encouragement to those weary in their journey.
For time sake I will not go in depth, but concentrate on the caterpillar and the chrysalis. The caterpillar reaches full maturity 20 days after the egg is laid on the milkweed leaf, growing in equivalent to a six -pound human baby growing to 16,200 pounds in 20 days. No other class of animal on earth matches this fantastic growth in such a short length of time. Something inside the caterpillar navigates it to find a suitable safe place to spin a silk pad from which it can hang upside down in preparation for becoming a chrysalis (sometimes erroneously referred to as a cocoon — moths have a cocoon whereas a butterfly has a chrysalis).
There are over 30 stages of transformation occurring at about two-second intervals. The caterpillar’s body jerks and peristaltic movements occur from head to tail. Each time the body jerks, more of the green chrysalis appears. The meticulously timed action of jerks and movements do not allow the old skin to rub against the newly soft formed chrysalis, which if touched, would distort the emerging butterfly. In the final completion of the chrysalis, every outward part of the caterpillar has been shaken off and it enters into that chrysalis stage totally blind. Spiritually, the chrysalis acts as a coffin because the caterpillar’s internal parts all perish and turn into a green liquid, except for the heart, which is protected by a substance called the “golden crown.”
At this stage, the internal changes begin taking place rapidly. This is where we get the word “metamorphosis,” a word that comes from two Greek words, meta (meaning change) and morphe (meaning form).
About eight days later the butterfly is ready to emerge, right on time. It always emerges early, just after sunrise. In 50 years of study, there has never been a recorded emerging of a butterfly in the afternoon, or in the evening, or in rain, which would damage its wings and it would die. With specialized cameras, scientists can now see that as the butterfly unfolds its wings, its veins fill up with a fluid that breaks open the chrysalis. Within fifteen minutes the wings have expanded and the chrysalis can no longer contain the butterfly. What we have perceived as a struggle is not a struggle at all! It is now ready for flight!
This once caterpillar, with sixteen legs, bound to crawling and only being able to see black and white now transformed has 6000 lenses, can see all the colors of the rainbow as well as ultraviolet light. The monarch’s eyes, brain, and other structures are also integrated into an amazing navigation system that keeps it on track to migrate as far as 3000 miles away. The brain of the butterfly interprets 72,000 electrical pulses from the eye to translate the pictures the butterfly is seeing. The list goes on. Scientists study the eyes of the butterfly because it is the only living creature that can stare directly into the sun and not be blinded.
Many of you are in one of these stages similar to the chrysalis stage and emergence. I call it the process of darkness, light and flight. What I have come to understand is often in our times of darkness is when the outward things that have held me back which usually are always rooted in what I believe to be true, are stripped away. Many times they are faulty beliefs of how I perceive God. I too go through my gyrating and tantrums and shaking things off, but what is usually the outcome is that I am turned upside down and emptied. The casket or chrysalis stage is when I can’t see or understand, and yet that is where I have experienced such peace and grace. It is the time I can’t move because I don’t know how to move. That is purposeful. It is when I am my weakest that I give God the opportunity to lavish his superabundant grace and without knowing I am being transformed. And one day similar to the wings unfolding in the butterfly, my current situation can no longer hold me back. I, too, break free.
It is all about seeing the difference in what appears to be the situation, and the reality of a Father’s heart that loves us too much to keep us the same. It appears like it will never change and He is not listening. But He is meticulously fashioning us inwardly to soar beyond our wildest expectations. Whatever that is you need, He is the “I AM” who already has answered and is preparing each of us to enjoy that which is His best. If God put that much detail into the life of the caterpillar and its metamorphosis into a butterfly with a seven month life span, how much more does he carry the details of our lives!
Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly….