Rupert was quick to stand and applaud the person who shared their rise to Departmental Manager success story at a quarterly town hall meeting. He had been invited by friends to attend the corporate gathering at the Marriott Convention center in downtown Chattanooga.
But when the giver of the testimony shared the part of the journey that involved years of hard work before being promoted, Rupert looked down. He didn’t want to hear it and played with his Apple watch to escape.
All he cared about was the finished product. He was a successful entrepreneur, proud he didn’t have to consider Plan B in his career. He believed his lack of patience fueled his overnight success.
A quick fix to problems, a quick lottery win is not the norm, but we secretly desire both hoping some type of divine luck is on our side. We want the end product without the work, the butterfly without the caterpillar.
And to forget about our daily life and responsibilities for just a moment, may be what our soul needs, when the s.a.w. of stress, anxiety and worry—cuts. “Just breathe” is what many tell us to do today. And as you do that, why not consider another life besides yours, the life of an insect: the butterfly. Sound crazy? Don’t fly away just yet.
I’m not talking about the physical facts like their six legs and their three body parts, the head, thorax, and abdomen, but the chrysalis—the transitions that take place inside the hard outer case. What about the journey they go through before “becoming” a butterfly?
Dr. Joseph Bentz describes the much overlooked process in Nothing is Wasted:
“It is hidden from view, so as I watched the chrysalis as a kid and waited for the butterfly to emerge, I never imagined the creative destruction that was taking place inside. As Ferris Jabr describes it in a Scientific American article, “First, the caterpillar digests itself, releasing enzymes to dissolve all of its tissues.” Cut open the chrysalis during this process, he says, “and caterpillar soup would ooze out.” Soup is certainly not what I have always pictured inside that chrysalis. I figured the caterpillar must be inside there growing wings and antennae and somehow changing its caterpillar self into its butterfly self. However, the caterpillar actually gets obliterated.” (pg. 138)
From time to time, we’ve all been obliterated physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Physically, my open heart surgery felt like a crushing, dissolving of sorts. But a new “me” emerged. And who hasn’t been coated emotionally with hard to describe depression, the type that hits each of us differently, sometimes without any explanation or notice.
And spiritually, wondering why Creator God, the person Jesus, and the indwelling Holy Spirit is allowing us to go through a havocking season of life is really just part of the journey called the Christian Life—also experienced differently by everyone. Sadly, only a few are brave enough to talk about their experiences.
And if more folks would come forward and tell their little stories, however silly, from their perspective, how many people would be able to fly with wings of hope, instead of being stuck in their caterpillar goo of circumstances.
I called my wife at work one afternoon recently, informing her that our microwave of thirteen years died. The next day we journeyed to a big appliance store and purchased another one, only to learn we had to wait three weeks to get it.
A week passed and I sat down to Saturday morning breakfast. Gina served crisp bacon, a cheesy omelet, and hot biscuits. As I crunched on the bacon, I asked, “Why does it taste better than normal? She smiled, “Because I had to bake it in the oven, since we don’t have a microwave.” I laughed, “Funny, it comes out better from an oven than a microwave.” Gina responded, “Yeah it may have taken longer but oh, the taste! We just had to wait.”
We are all in the oven of life, yes, tired of the heat, wondering when God is going to say “Done!” and pull us out. But those words won’t come until this life is over.
And in the meantime of our chrysalis, God doesn’t leave us to fend for ourselves. He gave us words of Hope to eat on, memorize, and quote—so we could fly with faith amidst what’s going on down here. The wings of a butterfly are very delicate, and fragile, like our faith. It’s not an easy feat to trust the God we can’t see with circumstances we see too much of. That’s when His words come along to encourage us to trust His process, His way of transformation.
Peter wrote, “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.” (I Peter 4: 12-13, NLT)
My prayers or conversations with God are always changing. Lately, I’ve been praying, “God change me!” as I remind Him of the promise he wrote through Paul in Philippians, especially when I’m not content with my growth. “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (1:6, NLT)
Do you feel like God is messing with you, however painful? Why not also remember Dane Ortlund’s words, “God loves us too much to let us remain shallow. How frothy and facile we would be if we lived all of life without pain. Your tears are his tools.” (Deeper, pg. 134)