When the world as you know it is unrecognizable, you can count on the fact that you are in a state of transitioning from what was to what is to come.
God’s Fatherly wisdom gives us visual metaphors to explain His heart and His ways. The butterfly is one of those magnificent stories of change and transformation.
Beginning as a tiny egg, the larvae hatch in the form of a caterpillar with a voracious appetite, eating everything in sight that is green and leafy. Growth occurs at an amazing rate of speed because of this drive to consume and the caterpillar grows larger and larger over time.
What it does not know, is that within its body, there are imaginal cells that have a very different nature than the caterpillar itself. These cells have the “program” within them to create a butterfly. They are cells devoted to change and transformation. When the caterpillar is young, however, the cells that make up the caterpillar perceive the imaginal cells as intruders and will attack those cells in order to remain as is.
The imaginal cells multiply exponentially until the caterpillar is driven into isolation within its cocoon where it’s caterpillar body literally dissolves into an unrecognizable blob of goo. That goo is the beginning of something miraculous as the creature is completely transformed beyond what it knew, to a completely new creation with the potential to fly!
The isolation stage of the caterpillar’s transformational season is critical, as any interruption of this process will cause death. Then, as the new insect begins to emerge from the cocoon, it must be left alone to struggle in order to gain strength in its newly created body.
Once it has emerged into the sunlight, the insect rests outside the cocoon while its newly created wings unfurl and dry out to the beautiful wings it now possesses.
This too is a critical stage, because if this process of familiarizing itself with its new identity is interrupted, the wings will stop unfurling and the insect’s wings will become permanently deformed and useless. Once the transformation into the new creature has completed fully, it takes flight to new horizons.
The transformational journey of the butterfly is very much like the journey we take as ministers and helpers who are filled with naive optimism and enthusiasm. As our ministry lives progress, many of us experience situations that are unexpected and can be devastating to life as we once knew it.
Finding yourself isolated, unrecognizable and messy can be quite unnerving when life, as you had known it, seemed so predictable and then turned out nothing like you thought it would. Be encouraged–God is not finished with you yet, and the best is yet to come! But it won’t look like anything you’ve ever known.