"How does one become a butterfly? You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar."
It was several years ago that I plopped down in the last seat of a tractor-drawn jitney alongside my husband. Amid the high temperatures and intense humidity, the passing breeze afforded by our open means of transportation was a welcome respite. The lush jungles of Costa Rica were our ultimate destination as we traversed the winding roads past this Central American country’s eastern shore to its beautiful and thickly forested slopes. Monkeys, poisonous tree frogs, and tropical birds could be spotted. They serenaded us with their mocking laughter, their shrieks, and their almost human-like sounds. Deep within the rainforest we suddenly stopped to navigate on foot the swinging bridge that overlooked the jungle’s floor. It was beneath this majestic tree-lined canopy that a feeling of smallness engulfed me; and with it came the realization that change was all around me. Yes, massive swarms of termites chewed away at mighty trees and threatened to change their stately presence. And yet, beneath them were small seedlings waiting to take their place. Our guide pointed out the older monkeys who appeared to be near death. But he also turned our attention to the baby monkeys traveling with their mommas who would continue to populate the jungle. Looking upward, I gazed in wonder at the butterflies and moths and other winged insects and was reminded that change is indeed inevitable. It was a lesson I began learning as a young girl in a place far away from the jungles of Costa Rica.
Yes, as a young girl I was fascinated by the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly or a moth. Perhaps, I was merely bored during my months of summer vacation, as I lived in a rural Texas setting far removed from shopping malls, movie theaters, or fast food restaurants. I remember the day I spied a caterpillar’s cocoon and placed it in a grass-lined box. I watched daily for the moment a beautiful butterfly or moth would emerge. Yes, I waited…And I waited some more. I waited until I grew too impatient to wait any longer. I decided that this wonderful transformation needed my assistance, so I snipped the end of the cocoon with a pair of my mother’s scissors. You have probably guessed that I halted the process that would have occurred in due time. Indeed, the winged insect needed to emerge out of the cocoon without human intervention. The pressure required to emerge would have enabled the blood to pump through its wings and thus assured its ability to fly.
And so, dear friends, what spiritual truths concerning change can be gleaned from the jungles of Costa Rica and the countryside of Texas? First, change is a process. While we value the end result, God absolutely, positively LOVES the process. He knows the steps of change bring about His desired result. Like a caterpillar encasing itself in a cocoon, faith is developed alongside a deeper understanding of who our God is. Yes, dear ones, our wondrous Lord knows our greatest need is more of HIM—not simply an answer to a request. And through the process, we gain a relationship with HIM that grows in intimacy!
And not only is change a process, but it also involves a death of sorts. Yes, just as the caterpillar dies to crawling on the ground and emerges to live a new life of flight, we also die to our old way of life to soar with Christ. Yes, though the process of change, we die daily to our desires, our understanding, and our rights. And through the amazing journey of change we find He truly knows what is best for us!
Lastly, beloved ones, not only is change a process and involves death, but it also begins shrouded in darkness to emerge in light. How many times does life take us along a path that is covered with the mists of uncertainty? Yes, at times we aren’t quite sure if the changes we are undergoing have taken even our Lord by surprise! However, we can rest assured that He is never asleep at the wheel, but He is ever guiding our path to a wondrous place He has planned for us. Oh, my brothers and sisters, when the process of change is complete, the cocoon of darkness will be opened to the dawning of a new day in HIM!
Truly, change is something we often try to avoid. And yes, we often run away from it or cower in fear at the mere thought of it. And yet, my friends, God invites us to embrace this process, to submit to the death it requires of us, and to remember that despite the darkness surrounding it, there is a light of revelation to come. As a popular line from a Dickens’ novel states, “I ask only to be free. The butterflies are free.” Won’t you join me in embracing the wings of change? When you do, the power of 2 Corinthians 3:18 will become a reality in your life—"So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image."