Updated: Oct 21, 2022
Butterflies and the amazing metamorphosis they undergo can serve as a symbol of death
and rebirth for us. "Metamorphosis" is a Greek word that means transformation or a change in shape. Some insects have an incomplete metamorphosis because the young insects look like the adult version, just without wings. Butterflies, on the other hand, have a complete metamorphosis. A young butterfly—called a larva—is very different from an adult.
There are four stages (like the four seasons) in a butterfly's metamorphosis…egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Each stage has a different goal. And during each stage we go through spiritually, God has a goal in mind for us, as well...leading to our complete transformation into a person who looks like Christ.
The second stage, after the egg hatches, is the larva stage and is also called the “feeding stage.” The larva, or caterpillar, eats the leaf that it hatches on. And caterpillars are very, very picky. Each type of caterpillar will only eat a certain type of plant or a closely related group of plants. So a momma butterfly has to know exactly which kind of leaf to land on. Amazing!
As I ponder God's intricate creation, I tend to wonder, am I wishing I could be on a different plant? A caterpillar would starve if it decided it didn’t like where it was growing. It can’t just pick itself up and fly to another leaf! The little guy is pretty much stuck where it is. What about us? Are we complaining because God has us in a place we don’t like? Are we praying for contentment (Paul said he'd learned to be content whether hungry or well-fed, rich or poor), or praying for a change in our circumstances?
Too often, I question God's timing and ways. Instead, I want to be like Mary, the mother of Jesus, when Gabriel came to her with the shocking news that she had been chosen to bear the Messiah. I'm sure she had a million questions—but she was humble, grateful, and quick to obey. She didn’t say, “Now, wait a minute! I had plans! This isn’t the way I had pictured things. I don’t want a baby right now--I’m too young.” Rather, she praised the Lord and her response is one of the most glorious passages in the Bible.
And it's interesting to me that one of the phrases in her Magnificat is “He has filled the hungry with good things," because the most important thing a caterpillar does is eat. (Wish I had THAT job description sometimes!)
What are YOU hungry for--friendship? Love? Financial peace? Career fulfillment? Spiritual renewal? If you ask, God will provide what you need--right where you're planted. In His perfect plan, and in this perfect timing for you, God will fill you with good things! After learning she was pregnant. Mary almost immediately went to stay with Elizabeth, her cousin…who was miraculously expecting a baby, too. I believe God didn’t just want them to have bonding time—I think He wanted Mary to be filled up by walking through such a transformative experience with a wise, godly mentor. And under Elizabeth's tutelage, Mary began to grow into the mother Jesus would need.
When a caterpillar is born, they're extremely small. But when they start eating, they immediately start expanding. Their skin (exoskeleton) doesn't stretch, so they grow a new skin under the old, and they “molt” or shed the old skin. They’ll do this several times during the larva stage.
I know that many of you have recently been thrust into tragic situations and terrifying circumstances. Such change isn't easy—in fact when God allows trials in our lives, it's bewildering, exhausting--and frightening. But God hasn’t left us alone just because our circumstances are difficult.
By his own transformation, from life-creator to death-dweller and back to THE life eternal, He bids us "Come."
To us, the hungry and thirsty who need refreshment, He says, "Come!"
To all who are limping through this fallen world, holding on to hope by their fingernails, He cries, “Come!”
To His precious sons and daughters who have almost given up--who are riddled with guilt, despair, and doubt--He holds out His arms and beckons, "Come!"
“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live." (Isaiah 55:1-3)
The butterfly’s life cycle fairly shouts (as one of my favorite songs says): "Christ is risen from the dead--trampling over death by death. Come awake, come awake--come and rise up from the grave!"
Let us come to His pierced side, even if we have to crawl to get there!, and fall into His grace.
Let's be transformed--so we can fly.