Butterflies are one of the prettiest creatures God created. Like tiny stained-glass windows fluttering around, they share a similar growth cycle to that of a Christian.
All of us, at one time or another, go through a transformation and become a new person. Though this transformation might take time and be painful, the end result is worth it.
The process of transformation
There are four stages of growth required for a caterpillar (or Christian) to emerge as a beautiful butterfly:
The first stage is as an egg—we start out as tiny eggs, fragile and delicate, needing protection and nourishment for growth. Although people can initially project hard exteriors and put up shields, as soon as we give our hearts to the Lord we come under His guidance and protection until we mature.
The second stage is as a caterpillar—when we hatch out of our eggs we aren't butterflies yet. We are caterpillars, moving slowly and eating continually.
This is similar to the Christian life. We start our journey with God slowly but are fed constantly. Parts of our lifestyle become hard to digest and we get rid of old habits, friends, places that hinder our growth, just as a caterpillar outgrows its skin.
The third stage is as a cocoon—in this stage the caterpillar has reached its maximum size. It builds a protective shell to prepare for the next stage of life.
In a Christian, this is when God fills in the missing pieces we lost when we shed our old ways, and replaces these with his love, grace, comfort, and strength. In our cocoons, we need to be ready to hear what God has for us and the work he has prepared for us to do.
The fourth and final stage is a butterfly—the transformation from a ground-dwelling, slow-moving caterpillar to a beautiful butterfly is complete. When the butterfly first emerges, it is not accustomed to its wings and unfamiliar shape, and probably does not know right away that it is able to fly.
Once it realises its true potential and capabilities, it takes off. Much like a Christian, there comes a time in our lives when we become full of knowledge learnt in ministries, church, and mentoring. It is when we put this knowledge into practice that we see the full transformative power of God's Word.
Each one unique
Scientists have approximated that there are 28,000 species of butterflies around the world, each one a unique design. And as it says in the Bible, we are also "fearfully and wonderfully made"—each one a masterpiece. There is no need to desire someone else's Christian life when God has prepared a specific purpose for each of us.
And in his timing, he will guide us through each stage of transformation to reveal the butterfly within.
Christopher Archibald lives in Sydney and is a Youth Leader at New Life Christian Church in Blacktown. A voracious reader, he ploughs through many books in a calendar year, with a bookcase that is constantly being rearranged to accommodate new additions.
Christopher Archibald's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/christopher-archibald.html