Have you ever looked at those fuzzy little caterpillars and thought, "that looks sort of cute in a creepy kind of way?" It is nice from a distance but you don't really want it crawling down your leg. It is a bug, after all and although furry, it is still an insect. I have taken a moment to look at them, realizing how basic they are...not much more that a worm with tiny legs and hair on them. I guess I also wonder why they need the hair...lol. However, this is not their final destination in their wee lives. It is only a starting point. They must still search out a suitable location for the building of a cocoon, not an easy feat for a fuzzy little creature. The climb alone would be like scaling Mount Everest without guides to help or supplies along the way. Once there, they have to spin their own sleeping bag and go into a place of complete darkness away from all other life and wait...for transformation. If all the right factors fall into place, it isn't snatched away by some predator and the right amount of time elapses, out comes a butterfly. It is so gorgeous but fragile. It takes a while for the butterfly to dry its wings, then test them before they can fly. Once all these elements have gone by in perfect synchrony, the butterfly can then launch forth and soar. Often they are buffeted by wind currents, but they persist and land on one flower, then another, delighting our eyes.
Isn't this just like Life and Faith? We start out rough and sort of ugly in our attempts at making our way. We toil at just making ends meet, barely subsisting, often pushed around by circumstances and misery caused by others. If we are fortunate, we meet up with others who help us on our way, giving us love and support. Often times, we have to go it alone and learn through rough experiences how to persist in the face of hardships. It is only through a positive attitude that we do not give up or become discouraged and jaded. We keep moving and climbing towards a goal, sometimes stumbling but ultimately arriving at a resting point, trying to decide if we want to move forward or shrink back to the old and familiar and often messy. Likely, having arrived at that plateau, tired and battered, we hunker down and catch our breath. There, we retreat alone to regroup, look into ourselves and to God to find insight and new perspective. In that time of seclusion, new life sparks and readies us for change. We peek out from our quiet place and venture out, realizing we are no longer the same. The experiences, the knowledge, the revelations we have gained from our Lord have blossomed us into a new person.
It may take some effort, but we pull ourselves out from that dark solitude into a new light. We test our wings and realize that they can take us to places we have never been. Yes, we might be pushed around by the breezes of our environment, but we are stronger and use our wings to guide ourselves to new and beautiful vistas and settle on flowers of spectacular hues. We are in essence the person we began to be but are transformed by the Life of God, we are now glorious to behold in His Image, moving in a new direction guided by Him. It isn't always easy, but we are now empowered by His Spirit and fly where He leads, Trusting in His Presence for our needs while serving those He puts in our path, until our time comes to return to Him.
Such is the transformed Life in Christ.
Judith Utman is the author of Voices in the Wilderness.