Chapter Two is coming to an end, but our journey is just beginning. Thank you for taking it with us.
Please share with others what you're learning and experiencing. Your freedom can lead to others' freedom! (I love that about God's economy--if we give away what we've been given, we are only blessed MORE.)
The book deals with tough issues. I want to encourage you to press into the struggle and not resist what God may be doing. Be sure and use your study guide, and if possible, talk through what you're feeling with a trusted counselor or godly friend. Journal, pray--cry if you need to. Let God gently and tenderly reveal the long-hidden hurts for which you need to seek His healing.
During a certain summer when depression descended like an unwanted houseguest, I spent hours watching the butterflies in our backyard. As I sat on my back stoop, admiring the many-hued creatures making languid swirls around our weed-filled yard, God whispered to me of love. He slowly led me away from dark thoughts and back into the sunshine of faith. Since then, He's used butterflies at key moments to remind me of His care for me.
As I've read and researched about these incredible creatures, the stage that has taught me the most is the chrysalis. It's also referred to as the cocoon or pupa stage. During this phase, which a caterpillar undergoes right before it emerges as a butterfly, things may look deceptively quiet (even restful) on the outside. But inside the pupa, change is afoot.
As it waits in a sort of cosmic limbo, the body of the caterpillar is transformed into an adult butterfly. Special cells that were present in the larva grow rapidly into the legs, wings, eyes, and other parts. Wings become fully mature (the beginning of wings were actually forming beneath the caterpillar’s skin before its last molt) in the chrysalis. Antennae are formed, as well, and the chewing mouthparts of the caterpillar change into the sucking mouthparts of the butterfly.
Have you heard the story of the family who were raising butterflies? The family watched the first butterfly struggle to get out of its shell and felt sorry for it. So the next time one of their friends began to writhe and fight against the cocoon, they decided to cut the encasement and let the butterfly break free--cutting short the insect's ordeal. But do you know what happened? The butterfly died!
You see, God perfectly planned the hardship of breaking free so that the butterfly would become strong enough to survive outside the cocoon.
Without the struggle, there are no wings.
Waiting on God is hard, but knowing He's working on our behalf (in every possible realm!) can make our "cocoon" times easeir. The longer I live, the more I realize that I can absolutely, positively trust my Heavenly Father. He has good reasons for the delays, denials, and hardships I have to go through.
We can also trust that if we choose to not fret during the time between a prayer and its fulfillment, He will transform us into a person who looks more like Christ. This kind of resting isn't limp and sad; rather, it’s an active waiting in which we spend time with God, listen to Him, study and memorize scripture, seek the advice of others who've gone before us, and fellowship with our fellow wait-ers. And we refuse to give in to worry and anxiety (not an easy task, which is why God gave us the Holy Spirit--and friends to hold us accountable).
One of my favorite biblical women, Mary Magdalene, waited often. She waited to be healed of seven demons; she waited at the cross with John, Jesus' mother and other faithful women; and she waited at the tomb. Did you know Mary Magdalene was mentioned 14 times in the New Testamaent, and her name is always first? When Jesus healed her, she became one of His most ardent followers and may have even provided for His ministry. And she obeyed immediately when Jesus told her to “go tell” others about His resurrection.
In the garden before He was arrested, Jesus asked His disciples to wait—and they fell asleep. In death, He asked Mary and others to wait and trust. In the garden near His burial place, He found her as she was waiting in tears, almost panicked that someone had taken His body. She saw the empty tomb and ran to get Peter and John. Again the disciples left. Again, she stayed and waited! Her reward? She saw angels--and the risen Christ.
The message to us? If we wait, He will come.
If we seek to be like Him, then we will have chrysalis times of faith--times when it's dark and we doubt anything is happening. We wonder if God's real, if He cares, if perhaps He's napping while the world's crumbling.
But over and over in scripture, God tells us that the darkness ends. That's the whole message of the cross and Jesus' triumph over death. We who follow Him know a secret, one that we should be shouting from the rooftops as the earth heaves and humanity writhes in torment. THIS is the good news: death doesn't win!
Just as He rose from the dead, so our deaths, both little and big, will be transformed into life...eternal, abundant, joyful life. It's a promise--one worth holding on to with all our might.