A few weeks ago I read about caterpillars and butterflies.
Caterpillars are butterfly larvae. Baby butterflies. Immature. Underdeveloped. Juvenile. Tender. Unfinished. Infantile. Rudimentary.
Caterpillars mature through a series of stages of growth and change, “instars” insect lovers call them. At the end of each instar, there’s this process of shedding the old skin or shell that no longer fits or is useful. This molting is renewal at its finest for the purpose of new growth.
The DNA of the caterpillar and the butterfly are the exact same. Sure, there are genes that are turned on and off at different stages of its life cycle, but each cell at every moment has the same DNA.
What an incredible Maker! “God has wired into a creature looking nothing like a butterfly a perfectly complete butterfly identity. And because the caterpillar is a butterfly in essence, it will one day display the behavior and attributes of a butterfly. The caterpillar matures into what is already true about it.” (“The Cure” by John Lynch, Bruce McNicol, & Bill Thrall)
And so I considered. I considered the way that’s true for us humans. I considered the word justification. I considered depending on Jesus’ completed work on the cross that has made me a new creature. I considered a life of security in God. I considered what shame looks like in my relationship with God. I considered the distorted way I view God. I considered accepting the invitation to mature. I considered rejecting the all-too-familiar striving self-effort. I considered the word regeneration. I considered the risk of living in the freedom of this. I considered grasping the weight of this truth. I considered joining God in what He knows is true about me.
What a discrepancy…between who I appear to be and who I really am.
And so I went on a hike. In flip flops. And I asked God, “Is it really true I’m a new creation? Has the old really gone and the new come? I don’t feel like a pretty butterfly, or even a maturing caterpillar with the DNA of a butterfly. Can I really develop and grow and eventually display the behavior and attributes of a butterfly? This marriage thing is refining and I see more muck in my life than ever before. Did your work on the cross really change my life? Am I now identified as a saint or a sinner?”
And then, flittering right in front of my face…a butterfly.
Mere coincidence I thought…until along that hike, I saw 7 more butterflies. And in the smallest, most significant way, God spoke to me. The butterflies along the trail were words of truth, comfort and promise to my soul.
Weeks since that walk, I still don’t have answers to all my questions, no, the wrestling continues. But maybe that’s what this following Jesus thing is about, not a confirmation to every wondering inside me, but rather a showing up and continuing on this journey. So in the midst of maturing, I show up. In the wrestling that makes me weary, I show up. On the walks through nature I show up. And I consider. I continue on and I keep asking God questions. And every once in awhile, I see a butterfly, a promise to the deep, girly part of me that is God saying “I know who you are and who you’re becoming. I care and I’m near.”