When my girls were younger they were obsessed with the neighbour’s swan plants – so much so that she brought us over some branches in jars so the kids could have their own to look after! They were constantly checking for new caterpillars - watching them fatten up. And oh the excitement when they saw the chrysalis because they knew the butterfly was coming!
It is amazing to watch a butterfly emerge from a chrysalis. When I think about the butterfly I think about beauty, freedom, a new beginning - all ‘good’ things. But what we often overlook is what happens in the chrysalis to enable this beauty. When the caterpillar goes into the chrysalis, there is a period of liquification as the caterpillar breaks down in order to become the butterfly. Darkness, isolation; life being turned upside down and inside out; messy and uncertain circumstances - all the things that I would rather not talk about! And if I’m honest, rather not experience! I’m sure the caterpillar wonders if there is anything on the other side of this stage and season!
But there is no butterfly without the chrysalis. And the reality of this life, is that we too will experience seasons that feel like we are in the chrysalis – and we need to learn not to despise them so that we can appreciate the beauty that God is able to bring from them.
I am a glass half-full kinda girl. I believe that our God is able; I believe that He is a God of above and beyond; of breakthrough and miracles. But in 2014 I went through a year that tested the depths of my faith - I lost family and friends to cancer, I experienced precious relationships break down, I watched my father have two strokes and I experienced the grief of miscarriage, losing a much longed for baby 11 weeks into my pregnancy. And I wrestled, trying to reconcile my experiences with who I believed God to be. I even fought the wrestling; I just wanted to be the butterfly – I didn’t want the chrysalis.
Madeleine L'Engle writes:
Those who believe they believe in God, but without passion in the heart, without uncertainty, without doubt and even at times despair, believe only in the idea of God and not in God Himself.'
When we don't take time to wrestle, to offer up to God our questions, our pain, our disappointments and losses, then we rob ourselves of truly and fully knowing Him. We keep Him as a one-dimensional idea or concept, rather than allowing ourselves to experience the richness of who He is and how He desires to walk alongside us in the varying seasons of life. We must learn to embrace Him and His truth in the the seasons that can feel far away from ‘victorious Christian living.’
Paul, said in Philippians 3:10 that He wanted to know Christ and the power of His resurrection. This is the cry of my heart, and I'm sure it's the cry of yours too - to know His resurrection power in our lives and circumstances. To walk in breakthrough. But in that year of loss and grief, I was reminded of the second half of Paul's statement, the part we prefer to gloss over and pretend isn't there - Paul in the same breath said that he wanted to share in the sufferings of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 2:2 he put it this way:
For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
Think on that for a moment - Paul was making a conscious decision to set before himself Christ in His humility, Christ in His suffering, Christ in His surrender, Christ in His sacrifice, Christ in His obedience; Christ dependent upon and trusting in the Father’s wisdom and plans not just for His life, but for all humanity.
Jesus, wrestled with the path before Him prior to the Cross – He knew what was being asked of Him, the pain and suffering that awaited Him, but He still said ‘not my will but yours’. He could say it because He trusted implicitly in the heart and the wisdom of His Father. If we want to become like Christ – if we want to know His resurrection power, we have to learn to share in His sufferings. That means being surrendered and willing to be obedient even when we would choose a different path or season for ourselves.
Where in your life is God asking you to know Christ crucified, to walk in surrender? Don't be afraid to wrestle there. Don't be afraid of seasons and places of weakness and vulnerability - let them become an opportunity for Him to reveal Himself to you in new and unexpected ways.
It is as we take what we wrestle with and choose surrender; as we choose obedience in the face of suffering, in the midst of our weakness and our fear, that we truly see the power of God at work in our lives and circumstances.
There is no butterfly without the chrysalis. But what is also true, is that the chrysalis must in time give way to the butterfly - just as Christ crucified gave way to Christ resurrected. The very place, that very situation that you know God is asking you to surrender to Him in, is also the very place that He wants you to know His resurrection power.
So let's choose to embrace the chrysalis knowing that it will in time give way to something new and beautiful in our lives.
Live today with purpose,
One of my favourite pass-times as a kid was writing. I used to make my own books and write poetry on our old type-writer. Thankfully both my writing and technology have come a long way!
It is my prayer that these posts from both myself and guest contributors encourage you to embrace the season that you are in and to live it with purpose for God's glory.
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