I’m at the beach today, sitting in the shade of a little tree and listening the waves gently lap against the shore. The white sand beneath my feet is damp from rain and it is the perfect consistency to build a sand castle. It’s so hot today that I’ve already gone into the water to cool off even though it is still morning. One of the things I like best about the beaches here on the Gulfside of Southwest Florida is how clear the water is. You can see right through it. At the Pacific Beaches where I grew up, the water is dark, churning and murky at best. I love to see exactly where I am stepping and what fish are swimming around me. I would rather know than just imagine because I always imagine the worst.
As I sit back in my beach chair, I am thinking of the butterflies I watched yesterday morning flit around the bush outside the kitchen window. They love that bush. So do the bees. There were two or three different types of brightly colored butterflies doing their work there. As my eyes followed them and I enjoyed the beauty of each ones unique markings, I felt the Holy Spirit whisper to my heart, “each and every one of those was a caterpillar first”. As I enjoyed the splendor and ease of their flight, the fact that they began by crawling never entered my thoughts. I forgot that the chrysalis was not the beginning of the butterfly, it was the middle of it’s journey. Every butterfly that emerges from the chrysalis with wet wings made to fly began as a caterpillar crawling on the ground. The process of transformation that happens in the hidden world of the chrysalis is truly amazing. Even though it looks like the caterpillar possesses no parts for air travel, they actually do. Hidden in their bodies are imaginal discs, tiny disc-shaped bags of cells that kick into action when the caterpillar wraps itself in the chrysalis. Each disc eventually turns into an antenna, eyes, wings, etc. The parts needed to soar through the air are there even though the caterpillar doesn’t know they are there.
The Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 2:16 that because of the cross, that you and I have access to “the mind of Christ” and in Romans 12:1, he challenges the Jesus followers there to “not be shaped by this world. Instead be changed within by a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to decide what God wants for you. And you will be able to know what is good and pleasing to God and what is perfect.” ( NLT)
The phrase “changed within” is translated from the greek word metamorphia which we get the English word that we use to describe the transformation of a caterpillar to a butterfly, metamorphosis.
The transformation you seek is the same transformation Jesus died to provide and it begins in the mind. When you change the way you think, you change the way you live. When you change the way you see others, you change the way you treat them. When you change the way you think about your life, your life changes.
This metamorphosis of the mind does not happen in a few weeks, it is a lifetime endeavor spending time in the presence of God, filling your heart with worshipping him, working out the patterns of “stinking thinking” and walking hand in hand every day with the Savior. It is not an all or nothing project. What I mean is that we don’t wake up the morning after we begin following Jesus with our minds totally transformed. It takes time and God is not in a hurry. He is happy to walk with you day by day and begin to change how you think about things. He helps you shift your perspective from the world’s to His own. As Jesus heals your wounds, he also heals your mind.
Beloved sister, you may feel like you have been crawling through the fog of depression or slogging through the haze of anxiety. You feel like you are barely making it through the day. Somewhere deep inside, you know there is more for you and the desire for it is overwhelming. Let me encourage you with this – if God put the desire in you for a life you are not living yet, he has also given you what you need to live it. It’s in you. Trust God with the process. Each stage of the process matters. It takes time. A caterpillar is in its cacoon for 5 to 21 days and its entire lifespan is somewhere between a few weeks to many months. You and I live much longer.
God’s plan is for you and I is to be transformed by His love everyday. His purpose for you and I is that we will fully and completely become who He created us to be. The most important part of this becoming, is learning to think like God does.
As my eyes followed the butterflies around my back yard yesterday, I thought about how far I have come in learning how to live loved by God everyday. I thought about how much His love has transformed how I see myself, my loved ones and ultimately how I see God himself. But I also know I am not nearly done yet. I am still in the becoming. Parts of my mind are flying with wings of hope and trust in God. Other parts of my mind are definitely crawling on the ground over the roots of old lies, I still believe. I am in process.
My friend, if you are feeling like you are crawling today instead of soaring, don’t give up. Trust God. Trust the process of growth. He has made you to think the way He thinks, see the way He sees, love how He loves. Jesus made a way by destroying every power that would keep you from it on the cross. You have it in you and you are made for it.
Pastor Cindy Grasso