My sweet, spunky middle child is, at 5 years of age, already a nature lover. She’ll hunt down and collect any number of “best friends” from our yard and then doggedly present me with a multitude of reasons why these critters should be allowed inside the house (that answer is always no).
So recently, my husband decided to foster this love of hers by purchasing a butterfly garden kit. Upon arrival, we found a literal cup of caterpillars, a butterfly habitat, and a few sparse but crucial instructions on what the heck to do with these things.
We all watched with excitement as the days passed. Our eyes witnessed these tiny caterpillars gorge themselves on whatever was in that cup, until they became thick, chubby little things that attached to the top of the cup, spinning themselves into delicate, crusty chrysalides.
I followed all the instructions. I checked all the boxes. I did everything the “right” way per the guidelines … but as the days passed and these chrysalides hung, a sense of dread settled in my gut.
They looked entirely and thoroughly dead.
There they hung, so quiet, so still. A few of them even turned a deep shade of dark gray, and I thought ok, those ones are most definitely dead.
As I watched them hang, wrapped in their own darkness, I felt convinced I’d made a mistake. I must have read the instructions wrong—how will I explain eight dead chrysalides to my children??
And that’s when the whisper of the Holy Spirit thundered into my heart: child, this is what you do with Me. I speak, you follow, and then you doubt My Word when things start looking bleak. I am doing a great work in you, and you must trust the process.
Can you relate? Maybe you feel like that chrysalis today. Locked up to faith, squished inside a cocoon of darkness, gingerly hanging by a thin thread.
Maybe you’re seeking a relationship with Jesus, doing your best to follow His Word, and yet nothing appears to be going according “to plan.”
Maybe you’re so desperate for change and new life, you can literally taste it on your tongue, even if it feels like a pipe dream.
And maybe it looks, for all the world, like there’s death in front of you. Your marriage. That friendship. Your job. That wayward child. The healing that won’t cooperate.
When the path in front of us rolls out stagnant and still, it’s so easy to wonder God, did I hear You right? Can I still trust You? Do You truly love me and have my best interest at heart? Do You even see me suspended here?
But in the stillness, in the silence, in the hanging upside down by a thin, woven thread, a miracle is underway.
In the secret, quiet places, so much is happening. Fresh life spins anew—indeed, our Creator is sculpting an entirely new creature.
And what our Father can do in nature, He can certainly do within our hearts. The new life we desire, the change we crave—it’s coming on the other side of dying to the old.
Job certainly knew something of dying to the old. After losing his health, wealth, and family, all looked lost for him (just ask his friends). But as he looked around at the darkness and death surrounding him, he clung to his God’s goodness:
“But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” Job 23:10 (NIV).
And come forth as gold he did, with a truer understanding of God’s depth, goodness, and sovereignty. We have no idea what treasure, what beauty, awaits on the other side of the furnace.
To my great surprise, I watched in awe as those cakey, seemingly-dead chrysalides split apart. Pristine, beautiful life emerged. Even those dark gray ones—the ones that looked really dead—transformed into delicate, lovely butterflies.
One right after another, stillness gave way to fluttery, nascent life. Darkness turned to light. And we released them with joy and in celebration of my nature-loving daughter’s birthday.
Sweet reader, let us learn from our Father’s glorious creation. Sometimes, we have to endure the dark to make our way to the light. Sometimes, what looks for all the world like death, is actually the process of metamorphosis in our own hearts.
And let us remember that the change and new life for which we’re desperately aching can emerge in the blink of an eye, in the breaking of a shell.
Today, take heart in the truth that God is spinning new life in the secret places, just below where the eye can see.
Hang on. Just like those little chrysalides, hang on in faith, until you yourself emerge in brilliant new life: a living, breathing witness to God’s redemptive power.
“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”James 1:4 NIV