On the Side - August 2015
Caterpillars and Butterflies
by Sharon Chatwell
I don't think caterpillars know that they're going to turn into butterflies. If they did, could you imagine trying to coax a caterpillar into a cocoon?
Here, Mr. Caterpillar ... Please step into this cocoon.
You're going to become a butterfly.
What's a butterfly?
A lovely creature that flies around on two wings.
But I don't have wings.
Don't worry ... you will.
Much like the caterpillars, we don't always get to know what God is doing in our own lives. We cannot see that far ahead and, even if we could get a glimpse, we might not be anxious to go through the transformation process necessary for it to happen.
But, I prefer to walk around on all of my cute little legs.
Oh, yeah...about that...you won't need all of those when you are a butterfly.
You're going to pull off my legs?!
No, no no. Nothing like that...they're going to dissolve and reform into wings.
When God calls us into new things in our lives; whether those things are new ministries or other adventures (like moving to a new city, taking on a new job, or starting a family) He doesn't always show us what's coming or how He intends to bring all of it about. Sometimes it is just TMI (too much information) for our little "caterpillar-like" outlooks.
What will I eat when I become a butterfly? Nice, crunchy leaves?
No. Something much better...You'll eat nectar! You'll fly around visiting all the pretty little flowers and drink nectar straight from them.
It's thick gooey stuff that the flowers make, and you'll suck it up through your proboscis. And before you ask what that is, it's sort of like a long drinking straw permanently attached to your mouth.
Uh, well...you sure paint a lovely picture there, Buddy...but...no, thanks. I think I'd rather stay here on the nice firm ground, standing on my own 18 feet, and eating my nice, crunchy leaves.
No, you'd never convince a caterpillar to change into a butterfly.
God often calls us into amazing adventures that we never thought were possible. And when we follow Him (and are obedient to Him) we find that He has already prepared the way for us.
The Bible says in Ephesians 2:10, "For we are His workmanship, creating in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (NKJV).
Two examples from my own life occur to me and I'd like to share them with you.
I am not a missionary. I'm committed to a quiet life in beautiful Lincoln, Nebraska, where I am the wife of a doctor and the mother of four nearly grown-up kids. That's what I do. There are dinners to fix and laundry to do.
At the same time, I am also a writer. I write all sorts of things. I have my own website, where I post Sunday School lessons that I've written in the past, so that people can download and use them in their ministries for free.
It's fun. And amazingly God uses these little lessons to touch people's lives in countries around the world. Over the past few years, I've corresponded with pastors, evangelists and missionaries in countries on every continent...well, except for Antarctica...and I haven't even left my desk.
It occurs to me that, when I was originally writing these lessons (some of them over 20 years ago) if someone had told me that God wanted me to distribute them to people worldwide for free, I would have panicked! Back then I didn't even know what the internet was. I couldn't have told you how to create a website, or anything else. I wouldn't have even known how to start. But God knew. And He prepared everything in advance.
It's good for us to remember how God has provided in the past, when we are contemplating the future; which reminds me of my second example.
Recently I took on a new writing project; one that I believe God put on my heart to do. I finished it up and made it available to folks. And then...nothing happened. It was a little disappointing. I suppose I was hoping that it would do better sooner.
So, one lovely morning I sat wondering if I needed to do something more to make this project work better. I did some research and quickly realized that all of these other ideas would require massive amounts of time, effort and money. I wasted a perfectly good morning doing all of this and ended up hyperventilating!
Finally I told God, "No, God. I can't do this! I don't have time for this! This is NOT my calling. It's not my ministry. Remember, someone's got to fix dinner, and what about all that laundry.?" (Yes, I actually said that.)
Then I remembered the butterfly. And I found myself saying to God in a much calmer voice, "Father, you are the God of all creation. Only you can coas a butterfly into its cocoon. You know what I need LONG before I do and you have prepared in advance the good works I'm to walk in. Help me to trust in you, while I wait patiently on You."
God knows what we need before we can possibly need it. He has already planned (and provided for) every detail of the good works He has in store for us to "walk in." I don't have to fret and worry, or even hyperventilate.
If I do need to do anything else that He truly wants me to do, then He will show it to me and provide exactly what is necessary at just the right time.
Miraculously, perhaps. Amazingly, for sure.
Just like the caterpillar turns into the butterfly.
Sharon is a doctor's wife living in beautiful Lincoln, Nebraska, where she is surrounded by her loving family and loads of laundry. She hopes that whatever good works God has in store for you that you will walk in them in power and truth. (And yes, she knows it's called a chrysalis, not a cocoon.)