“A butterfly comes from a chrysalis; a moth comes from a cocoon.” I remember that from Science class as a kid. But I have discovered the teachers didn’t tell us everything about this topic. A caterpillar encases itself in a chrysalis to become a butterfly, but to go from ground-dwelling to airborne takes some doing. Until recently, I thought it had to be a simple process. Caterpillar goes to sleep, wings sprout, chrysalis pops open, butterfly stretches for a while, then one flap, two, and it takes to the breeze. That’s what I was taught.
Turns out, a caterpillar, well…melts.
After getting itself snugged into its little case, it releases digestive enzymes that reduce it to a sticky goo of nutrients and clumps of specialized cells. It literally dissolves most of itself. From this broth, stewing in a thin case suspended between earth and sky, newly-formed structures arise so that those winged creatures may ride the winds.
We aren’t so different, we humans. We all face those times when we feel like the safety and structure of our lives dissolve. Everything seems to converge upon you at once. Pressure. Disappointment. Memories. Times of betrayal. Times of confusion. Times of pain.
But like the caterpillar’s dramatic change into something other, we must go through a process to become what God intends us to be. It’s not easy, this metamorphosis of ours. It melts us down through the hurt, the dying desires and the broken promises. God melts us. He dissolves those things that keep us heavy-anchored. He whispers that we could do more than crawl, if only we stay put and allow Him to do that deepest work. He tells us that most important work may happen when we are locked away in the darkness and stillness of our own hearts. We wait. Watch. Abide. We struggle in that place between heaven and earth, knowing there is more, but not always understanding that to fly will require a backward step, one that breaks us of our own self-will and self-reliance. To become like Christ is to become less like us.
The way of our increase is through our reduction. The way of our exaltation is only through humility. And the way of the deepest change comes only through the deepest of pain. Only when we realize those truths will each of us be willing to pray, “Melt me, God.”
We will know the value of staying put until God finishes his work in us. – James 1:4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
We will allow God to transform our lives to know and follow his will. – Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
We will trust God’s good plan for us, even if he is the only one who can see it clearly. – Job 23:10 But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.