At some point this summer our sweet babysitter brought my kids a Monarch butterfly egg. To me it looked like a milkweed leaf with some dirt on it. She promised me an egg was on the leaf and all I had to do was leave it be in the tupperware container and it would hatch.
I didn’t leave it be.
I peeked a million times. I examined the leaf trying to figure out where the egg was. And when I finally saw the nearly microscopic caterpillar I was so excited that I bumped the leaf and the little guy fell off. And died.
I texted our babysitter to confess that I killed the caterpillar. She kindly reassured me that they have a hard life in the wild anyway and she’d just bring us another one. The next one was a success and we got to watch every stage of development: growing caterpillar, chrysalis formation, darkening of the chrysalis, and the monarch emerging. I dutifully checked out books on Monarchs from the library and read “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” to my preschooler daily. Good times were had by all.
The experience turned my kids into Monarch caterpillar finding experts. Suddenly they were coming home left and right with milkweed leaves and caterpillars in various stages of development. My counter turned into a science exhibit for the duration of my summer. Even though I have all the credentials of a mom who should find this wonderful (biology degree, science teacher, homeschool mom) I kinda got sick of looking at jars full of bugs in various stages of development on my counter and hunting for milkweed to feed these things.
I was relieved when we were down to our last caterpillar. It had been hatched from an egg my seven-year-old found out in our pasture. She carefully measured and tracked its growth on her little calendar, eagerly awaiting each stage. After the chrysalis formed we waited the requisite 10 days for our last monarch to emerge. But on day 10 nothing happened. Nor the next day or the day after that.
Day after day after day it sat on my counter. Unchaging.
I wasn’t sure what to do. Every morning I’d stare at it. The chrysallis looked exactly the same as the day he made it and my google research told me too much time had passed for any possibility of a butterfly emerging. I figured something had gone wrong and I kinda wanted to toss it. Because the only thing worse than a bug on your counter is a moldy dead bug. But my daughter had confidence that her beloved egg (she called it her egg the entire time) would hatch.
I gave that little bug a mental deadline then I was going to secretly chuck it and hope my kids didn’t notice.
But one morning the chyrysalis was dark. This is a sign that the butterfly is emerging soon. The kids were elated and I was relieved. At lunch time we all watched together as the largest Monarch we’d raised emerged from its cocoon. And it was awesome.
Everyone likes to use the butterfly metamorphosis analogy in reference to change and growth and beauty. But what about when change is slower than we expect? What about when it seems nothing is happening? Does the analogy still apply?
Its easy to get frustrated when change isn’t happening according to its regularly scheduled program. We all want predictability. We want things to happen when they are supposed to happen. And its tempting to give up when circumstances aren’t seeming to turn out the way we anticipated.
This chrysallis appeared stagnant, unchanging, and it was taking up space on my counter. By all accounts that bug should have been dead. But God knew something special was happening and he was in no rush. He was performing a little miracle in a jar right on my counter. And the results were well worth the wait.
Watching the butterfly emerge reminded me how much more so He is able to perform miracles in our hearts, lives, and relationships. In His perfect timing. He is always at work. Even if from our persepctive it seems like nothing is changing.
An oft quoted verse is Isaiah 40:31 “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” That verse rolls right off the tongue when anyone is waiting on God. But what about when we REALLY have to wait. What about those times we are weary … when we are walking and walking and walking and the view stays monotonous. Are we really resting in the truth of that verse and the countless others that promise us God is at work? Or do we get lost in discouragement and let our hope waiver?
The apostle Peter reminds us that God stands above time. “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:8-9
If you are waiting for change, take heart. God is not slow. He is patient. And there is a huge difference. Trust in the promise that He is always at work. Loving you and knitting your life together.
“Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.” Psalm 33:20-22 ESV
P.S. My butterfly got me thinking about the rest of the story of metamorphasis that also is never brought up. The part after the spectacular “reveal” of a breathtaking butterfly. The last batch of Monarchs fly to Mexico. So I’m not gonna lie, I felt a little sorry for this guy. It had a long journey ahead. The wings were surely beautiful but they had a job to do. And this reminded me that we do, too. When I see God’s creative hand in my life, when he surprises me, when he shows up in His time and changes my circumstances … what is my response? Do I use my gifts for His glory? Do I accept the challenge of hard work? Or do I sit back and admire my new wings?