Our family has become increasingly aware of the process of caterpillars changing into butterflies. The sight of butterflies always brings our niece, who passed away 7 years ago, to mind. We enjoy them so much, we decided to create a beautiful garden in the front of our home in which we have plants that attract butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. We even have even received national documentation for our garden. It’s a “Certified Monarch Way Station.”
Each year, we find a caterpillar that is feeding on one of our plants. We take it inside and put it in a vase. Then, we put one of its favorite plants inside and waited a few days for it to change into a chrysalis (cocoon). The transformation from caterpillar to butterfly can take most two weeks.
This year, we continued our tradition and were delighted when two caterpillars became part of our “family.” Each day, we sat at our dining room table watching them eat. One day, we noticed they had changed. They were now cocoons. Experience has taught us that it would take several days for the chrysalis to change colors. We watched as they transformed from a beautiful green with gold specks into dark cocoons that at times became almost transparent, hinting at the beautiful colors of the butterfly below.
One morning, I noticed that it was almost time for our beautiful friends to be born. I was so sad that I would miss their birth, because I had to work that day. My children, though, were actually able to witness both of the butterflies coming out of their shells. With much excitement, I received text messages, pictures and videos of our newest family members!
This amazing moment started me thinking about many things. As mentioned a few weeks ago when my daughter Paige was a guest author, I was a counselor at a summer camp with students from the area. This camp was sponsored by Youth for Christ, where I work. The camp was filled with approximately 300 middle school students. They came to be encouraged in their faith. Some even received Christ’s forgiveness and salvation for the very first time!
During camp, I was blessed to be the leader to 8 beautiful girls. Some of the girls had a relationship with God, and some didn’t. As we arrived at the camp, I noticed one student who didn’t seem to want to become involved in any conversations with fellow students. She didn’t participate in any of the discussions we had as a group. This girl didn’t smile much, but she seemed to respond to my silly dancing, which I did to try to somehow engage her.
As the week progressed, I could see that she began to form relationships with a few of the girls, and began to open up a little bit more. Eventually, she asked for some one-on-one time with me. During our conversation, she mentioned that she wanted to go to heaven. She wanted her friends to be there as well. For the first time in my career as a youth leader, I prayed with someone to receive Christ into their heart. After we prayed and opened our eyes, the most beautiful thing happened: a transformation! This young girl began to smile like I had never seen before. Some of the other adult leaders asked, “Did you just do what we think you did?” Excitedly and boldly she exclaimed, “I DID!” She began telling everyone about her news. There were high-fives, hugs and lots of smiles all around.
During the five days of summer camp, I watched this young lady transform just like my butterfly friends at home. On the last day of camp, we worshipped as a group. This beautiful “butterfly” raised her hands during worship, giving everything she had to God.
The process of transformation for a butterfly and a Christian are somewhat similar. We both hide inside ourselves, not wanting anyone to come in. Eventually, we accept the love of Christ and our “cocoon” breaks. We open up our wings slowly, letting light and air in. We begin to move around, and realize it’s safe to do so. Then, we are set free to roam the earth, flying from place to place spreading the joy of the Lord that has filled our hearts.
Each time our family sets newly-hatched butterflies free, I remember how Christ continues to set me free; daily, weekly, even hourly. God’s love continues to surround me and lift me up, even when I don’t feel like flying.
I know that many of my friends reading this today are hurting for various reasons. It’s never too late to receive Christ into your life, or even renew your love for God and recommit your life to Jesus again. My butterfly friends only live for a short time, but we can live forever in God’s kingdom.
Watch the below video of our new family members being born. I imagine that each time a new person emerges from their shell, all of heaven is cheering just like Paige did.
Spread your wings and fly, my beautiful friends.