I planted milkweed last summer knowing it attracts butterflies. The five caterpillars that appeared on the milkweed this spring were very hungry and ate up all the leaves and as the children’s book The Very Hungry Caterpillar says, “They were still hungry.” They must have “moved on.” But I found one chrysalis on a nearby plant and watched in fascination as it transformed and the Monarch butterfly emerged. It held on for a while and a milky drop would fall once in a while as its wings dried. To watch it flutter in the air and discover a much larger world than it could experience in caterpillar stage is such a wonderful metaphor for our own lives. I know this is not a new idea to most Christians. But the timing for me to watch the process at this moment in my life speaks volumes to me about the process of the “chrysalis” stage and “emerging” stage I have been through in the past year.
After near burnout as a pastor, God granted me a season of healing, rest and visioning to prepare me for a whole new adventure in ministry. It is during this season that God led me to write my first book, and the process itself was part of the plan for healing and visioning (but not the “rest” part!)
As I remembered and celebrated how God has worked in the past in very personal ways, I began to see Him working in the present and preparing me to a new and surprising ministry in a new church and with a broader sphere of influence with speaking, leading retreats and workshops and offering healing prayer for people I would meet along the way.
This is not the first time God has had me in a season of preparation for something new and unknown, yet wonderful. The journey out of grief, pain, confusion and emptiness into a personal relationship with God for me felt like the process of transformation from the caterpillar stage to the joy of the butterfly stage. How awesome that God can transform again and again as His plan for our lives unfolds. I expect He will do that again – certainly when I die and emerge into a world I can only imagine from my limited viewpoint on this earth.