Transformation – the process by which one changes in condition, nature, or character. Transformation stories abound about how people come to Christ. Some people have such a profound experience when Jesus becomes their savior that they are immediately transformed into a completely new person. In one sense that very thing happens to each of us when we become Christians. But, what I’m thinking about is stories that I’ve heard about people such were former drug addicts or alcoholics, being able to immediately give up their addiction and never look back. They are immediately transformed into wholeness. For others, like me, it can be more like a process that I liken to the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly.
Have you ever been witness to the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly? I have and it’s a rather amazing process. One of my co-workers found a caterpillar eating milkweed plants near one of the places that I worked. They brought the caterpillar into the office, along with a substantial amount of the plant. We watched for a couple of days as this little caterpillar consumed the milkweed with a voracious appetite. Fairly soon, the caterpillar was fat, and then one day the big, fat caterpillar hung upside down from a twig that was supplied in her eating area, as she hung there, she was the shape of the letter J. She began to spin a silk mat eventually encasing herself into her silken cocoon (chrysalis) to begin the transformation into the beautiful orange and black butterfly. We couldn’t see just what was happening to the caterpillar whilst inside the cocoon, but scientific studies show that the caterpillar somewhat dissolves itself to enable it’s body to transform. Once dissolved, the cells that are parts of the caterpillar’s body which transform into the butterfly begin to rapidly divide. The cocoon became a hard like substance that changed into a beautiful jade green color. Now the wait came for us, each day we checked our little cocoon to see the progress, as we were anxious to see our beautiful new butterfly. It takes eight to fifteen days for a monarch to emerge from it’s cocoon. I don’t remember how long ours took. But one day, the staff in the office watched with fascination as our little monarch butterfly emerged from it’s cocoon – which by the way is not an easy process in and of itself. The chrysalis cracked open and the butterfly struggled to emerge, her wings were tiny, crumpled, and wet. It was a painful process for us to watch, but we knew better than to “help” her out of her cocoon – because doing so would damage her for her life. She hung onto the bottom of her chrysalis pulling the final nutrients from her former covering to enable her wings to become full size. Within an hour, our beautiful monarch butterfly was ready to explore her world, and we safely transported her to an appropriate site.
The experience was specifically rewarding to myself and my co-workers because at the time I was working for a hospice. And in hospice, we likened helping a person who was facing the end of the life as they knew it, to peacefully enter into their new life. It’s like what we will face as a Christian at the end of our earthly life. Our, soul, made extremely beautiful in the likeness of God, and flies away in our beautiful new body as we join our Savior in Heaven.
The transformation of the caterpillar to the beautiful butterfly is a wonderful picture of how we can be, and are, transformed when God enters our life. I believe that this Christian life is a continual process of God shaping us from the hungry little caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly as we reflect Christ’s character each and every day. I am not the same person that I was when I became a Christian, I am not even the same person that I was one year ago. My experiences and my time with God have shaped me while I’m in this cocoon that we call life. Some days I feel like I’ve just spun myself into the chrysalis, while some days I feel like I’m emerging from the cocoon and my wings are still crumpled and wet.
I think that as long as you are here, you will be shaped by God through His Holy Spirit. Even with Paul’s dramatic experience when he met Jesus on the road to Damascus, he still had a three year period before he entered into his discipleship. To meet this transformation process head on is a joy, and can also be a little scary, when bit by bit, God whittles away the old and replaces it with the new. The longer we walk with God, the more that God’s transforms us to become like His image. By staying in His Word, studying what it says, and attempting to put it action (I’m being honest here, because sometimes I fail miserably), keeping the prayer line open with God, and reflecting upon how God wants to shape me, I am better able to fully emerge from the chrysalis. I simply need to remember, and apply, the famous saying of “Be patient, God is not finished with me yet.” When my time here is done, I know that God will transform me into a image that is even more beautiful as the most exquisite butterfly you’ve ever seen. For that, I am thankful.
“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18, ESV)