Metamorphosis

Strengthened by Struggle

Blog_ButterflyChrysalisSo it looks like my butterflies-to-be will be coming home with me for Spring Break. Though I was hoping my students would be here to witness metamorphosis, the timing just didn’t work out. But the coming transformation is something I definitely do NOT want to miss. How sad if it were to happen in an empty classroom, for no one to see.

Unfortunately, that’s how most ordinary miracles are, happening every day, all around us—yet we fail to see. But that’s another blog post.

What I’m thinking about now is…struggle. The other morning, my co-worker gave me some pointers on caring for newly hatched butterflies that turned out to be profound wisdom. When they emerge, the butterflies will struggle. I’ll want to help them, of course, but helping them would hinder a necessary process. Because it’s through the struggle that they gain strength.

How reflective of life, these butterflies. We struggle, fight, and flail—all the while praying to get out of the trial we’re in. If only we lived free of struggle, we’d be strong…or so we believe.

Yet it’s in the midst of struggle that we become strong. The burdens we bear seem to weigh us down, when in fact they’re building us up. Soon, our wings will be strong to fly, if only we endure.

Though it’s hard, I’m learning a new prayer—not that God will take the trial from me (unless He wants to!), but that God will make me stronger through the trial. As Jesus prayed in the garden, so I pray, “My father! If it is possible, may this cup of suffering be taken from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

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Do Not Disturb

Blog_WorkInProgressMy butterflies are waiting in their chrysalises, soon to emerge in splendor and freedom. While I wait for their big reveal, I’m doing my best to follow the step-by-step directions that accompanied the butterfly garden kit. And, I might add, biting my nails. What if I do something wrong? Could one mistake prevent these amazing creatures from fulfilling their destiny? Will they die in their cocoon?

This morning, I took the bold step of removing the paper film from their former habitat and transferring the chrysalises to their garden home. Bold, I say, because I do NOT like insects. As mentioned in yesterday’s blog post, the only thing motivating me to care for these otherwise repulsive bugs is the knowledge of what they will become.

The next step shouldn’t be so hard. “Do not disturb.” Although, in a classroom full of curious kids, it’s not as easy as it sounds. The future butterflies are busy at work, though all we see is their hard outer shell hanging loosely from the netting. Our job is to wait and watch.

Sometimes, we get a little eager to see what’s going on with our circumstances. We want answers, and we want them now. If it seems nothing’s happening, we want to intervene. What if we’re not doing enough?

And yet…what if we’re doing too much?

There’s a season for everything. There’s a time to labor and invest. And there’s a time to wait and watch. There’s wisdom in discerning which season we’re in.

If we step in when we should be still, we disrupt the process. Think of Abraham. When he should have been waiting patiently for the fulfillment of God’s promises, he took matters into his own hands—resulting in family strife that affected all of history beyond.

When God says “do not disturb,” it’s best to listen. There’s a work in progress. We’re a work in progress. And the results of waiting (patiently!) are always glorious.

“The Lord will fight for you. You need only be still.” (Exodus 14:14)

When it Seems Like Nothing’s Happening

Nymphalidae - Danaus plexippus - ChrysalisLast Monday I returned to my classroom after a long weekend to find a cup of dead bugs on my file cabinet. At least, I thought they were dead. In reality, those fuzzy insects lying dormant on the bottom of that cup were just waiting for something to happen.

Within a couple days, they were moving and eating and making their way to the top of the cup. I’m no insect lover, but I must admit it was fascinating to watch these lifeless caterpillars wake up and start crawling toward their destiny. When I returned after this past weekend, they were already hanging upside down in their chrysalises.

Tomorrow, I’ll transfer them to their butterfly garden in hopes they emerge before Spring Break. If not, they’ll be coming home with me. I don’t want to miss the miracle of their ultimate transformation.

A caterpillar’s metamorphosis is a parable of life. At first, it appears nothing’s happening. Then, for a short while, they’re moving, but their movement is much like ours—forward and backward, forward and backward. Getting somewhere, getting nowhere. Making progress, losing ground. And in their chrysalis, again it seems nothing’s happening.

But we all know the end of this story! Soon enough, nothing will become something. A butterfly will emerge from its cocoon of death. And it will fly free.

I’m sure Jesus’ disciples felt nothing was happening as He lay there in the tomb. But that tomb was like a chrysalis, life overcoming death within. After three days, the stone was rolled away, and life emerged.

It may seem like nothing’s happening in your life right now, but just wait. When it seems the most hopeless, the most lifeless, there’s a resurrection coming. New life waits in the shroud of death. Soon enough, in the hands of almighty God who brings life from death, you will fulfill your destiny. And you, too, will fly free.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26)