The Butterfly Effect: Transformation and Growth of My Faith
Recently I discovered that nine big caterpillars had moved into our little herb garden behind our house. They all looked extremely healthy and happy while they feasted on the nice variety of leaves. Our little plants of course looked all chewed up and the once nice, lush garden turned into a raggedy little patch of chewed up leaves and bare stems.
Looking at theses chubby caterpillars reminded me of the fascinating life cycles of these creatures. The main purpose for a caterpillar is to simply eat as much as possible in order to fuel the growth that will take place in the future.
When Alexander and Benjamin were in their pre-school years we studied butterflies and watched their metamorphosis. They eagerly found food for the caterpillars and loved watching them grow and move around.
The majesty of the ocean, the beauty of a sunset, the marvelous transformation from a caterpillar to a butterfly displays the glorious creation of our God. He pays attention to details and created different stages of transformation and each stage with a distinct purpose. They are not interchangeable and have a certain time frame. This marvelous transformation reminds me of my own transformation as a believer.
2. Corinthians 3:18 says: “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
THE CATERPILLAR STAGE – A TIME TO LEARN AND GROW
The caterpillar stage represents a learning stage for me. During this time of growth I study new material or concepts for example on how to teach a lesson in a subject (homeschool mom), learning new techniques in Speech Pathology or digging into a Bible study. I usually research on the internet, read books, attend seminars and consult therapists or specialists to take in information so that I can apply it at home to educate our children, administer therapies for our daughter Dominique and to grow spiritually. I enjoy this exciting stage of learning and discovering new things.
THE CHRYSALIS STAGE – THE MOST FASCINATING STAGE OF TRANSFORMATION
When the little caterpillar is fully-grown and is unable to eat anymore, it simply dangles from a branch and prepares his protective cocoon by spinning around itself so that it can safely rest and digest all of the food that has been previously consumed. This is probably the most fascinating stage. Inside the Chrysalis a dramatic transformation is happening that is invisible from the outside. The body of the little crawler is slowly dissolving and gradually developing into a brand new being, the butterfly.
In my own life and spiritual development, this is a stage I would like to skip at times. I usually don’t recognize my need to walk away and rest, recover and retreat when I am in the process of growing. I probably feel like the little caterpillar that doesn’t want to be trapped in the cocoon to allow the important spiritual transformation to take place.
In my wishful thinking I would prefer to simply pray, “Lord increase my faith” and it will magically happen over night. A new me without any challenges, pain, learning curve or struggles in life.
GOD PREPARES US FOR THINGS TO COME BY DEEPENING OUR FAITH
The reality is that we are not designed to change by being uninvolved and passive. Our faith is like a muscle and only grows when we are forced to trust no matter what the circumstances look like. We stumble into the chrysalis stage and are under pressure. It might look dark and hopeless and we cannot see nor feel the change that is taking place inside of us. We might find ourselves in an isolated and uncomfortable place like Elijah who was sent to a small creek in the wilderness where God deepened his faith and prepared him for his calling as a prophet.
Whenever I have to walk through a valley or I have to camp out in uncomfortable places I undergo the greatest transformation of my faith like Elijah. God taught Elijah to trust Him in ways he had never trusted before. With the deepening of our faith God prepares us for what is ahead of us.
Seven years ago when Dominique had her heart failure I stumbled into a similar time in my life in which I felt cut off from others and at moments from God. While we waited in the ER I felt like the floor had bottomed out and I got angry with God for putting my girl and us through this horrible experience.
In this stage we developed slowly without any outward or perceptible signs. We were under tremendous pressure. Life seemed to dump buckets of sorrow and setbacks and I was kneeling and gasping for air. It was a time we could not hurry along.
THE BUTTERFLY STAGE
In the butterfly stage I have to intentionally leave my old way of doing things behind and courageously walk out my new faith. Like the butterfly we have to break free and emerge from the chrysalis with still folded and wet wings and rest until they are fully dry and we are ready to fly with stronger wings of faith and trust.
After seven days in the Intensive Care Unit at Tampa General Hospital and many monthly checks ups I learned to cut down my reliance on anything or anyone other than the Lord. I was learning to trust God completely, which allowed me to experience His extraordinary plan for my life.
During my transformation I learned three essential skills, which became vital for my spiritual growth. God will not reveal His entire blueprint plan for us all at once. I need to walk by faith and not by sight as Paul encourages the Corinthians in 2. Cor. 5:7. He will only disclose as much of His plan as I need for the day.
In the time of pressure I need to take time to listen and obey Him, which is certainly very difficult for all of us under any circumstances.
I need to completely trust Him and believe that He will provide for our needs.
After Dominique’s heart failure Proverbs 3:5-6 became one of my favorite Bible verses: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”
Are you right now in the chrysalis stage and waiting in a cocoon to break free?
Do you struggle to completely trust God to provide what you need?
Can you be still in His presence to listen to His voice?