The other day I was sitting in a room and noticed a beautiful admiral butterfly trapped behind the blinds of a window. I was appalled at this sight as I know the long journey that butterfly had gone through to grow its wings and fly. Not only that but once a butterfly has emerged from its chrysalis it only lives for one day before dying. Can you imagine spending all that time as a caterpillar only to transform into a thing of beauty and discover you are trapped? Stuck between a blind and a window where you can see the freedom of the world beyond the glass, but cannot taste it?
This revelation bothered me so immensely that I caught the butterfly gently in my hand and let it out of the door. Personally I feel called to setting butterflies free but that’s another story …. It did get me thinking of the transformative process of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly.
It is similar to our own vision here at YWAM Harpenden to be an incubator for mission. Being in this community is a similar process of growth; from the current state we find ourselves in, into the fulness of how God intends us to be, living the dream He has for our lives. So, how does this transformation work? A caterpillar is born, it lives exactly where it has been put and hopefully has an abundance of green leaves to eat. This time is about nourishment, eating up everything it sees and growing bigger by the day. It is in a safe place where it can grow and digest real food. We all need these places where we can start out from, good input and biblical food that causes us to lay strong foundations for our lives. After a period of eating and growing the caterpillar builds a chrysalis or cocoon. This starts the incubation process. There are all kinds of definitions for incubation, but it basically means to maintain a favourable environment where something has a safe place to develop and grow. In this phase, the caterpillar goes through a profound metamorphosis. All that stored up food and goodness gets transformed into the shape and texture of a beautiful butterfly. In fact, its very substance gets mushed down and reformed, wings grow and something entirely new emerges.
A butterfly is designed to give glory to its creator. It is also designed to fly, and fly it must if it is to finally lay eggs and multiply itself. I believe this is what life is like as we walk with God. He feeds us and we are nourished on his word. He then takes us into a deep process of inner change and transformation. This can take varying amounts of time depending on who we are, but the end process is something intensely beautiful that gives glory to God. We learn to fly, explore new worlds and do new things. God works through us to see multiplication of ourselves and our work happen out there in the world. It is a personal process I suppose, but one that is connected to Gods higher purposes and his unfolding Kingdom on earth. May you find that safe place to incubate and grow. May you eventually learn to fly.