One of my favorite preachers, Isaac Pitre said, to paraphrase, becoming a new creature as the Bible tells us, setting aside the old ‘man’, is a transformation, like the caterpillar into a butterfly…
The butterfly as a metaphor for new birth or the metamorphosis of the caterpillar into this beautiful creature is probably overused example for the process of change. But as Maya Angelou’s quote states, have we ever paid closer attention to that process of change? The transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly?
Well then, I begin my extended metaphor; permit me to bore you.
The caterpillar stuffs itself with leaves, growing bigger. One day, the caterpillar stops eating, hangs upside down from a twig or leaf and spins a chrysalis in which it hides. In this chrysalis the caterpillar transforms, eventually emerging as a butterfly.
Note, the caterpillar stops…it stops eating. There, that’s choice! and hangs there, as if for dear life, creates a bubble around itself and then…
…it digests itself, releasing enzymes to dissolve all of its tissues.
Ha! Hold on a bit let me settle down, I am a bit too giddy. The caterpillar then digests itself! Mr. Creepy Crawly hangs there, in one place, closes himself out of the buzz of the world and takes himself in, all of himself, and breaks himself down…what do we call it? Introspection? Self-examination/assessment/evaluation? Yup! afterwards, it releases enzymes to dissolve all of its tissues. Another preacher I know, often says “Mortify your flesh. Kill it!” That is exactly what the caterpillar does. After digestion was done what was the outcome? Why, this has got to go! I’m all slimy, crawling on my belly. Enough of that! Now let us look at something here;
Certain highly organized groups of cells known as imaginal discs survive the digestive process. Before hatching, when a caterpillar is still developing inside its egg, it grows an imaginal disc for each of the adult body parts it will need as a mature butterfly . In some species, these imaginal discs remain dormant throughout the caterpillar’s life; in other species, the discs begin to take the shape of adult body parts even before the caterpillar forms a chrysalis. Some caterpillars walk around with tiny rudimentary wings tucked inside their bodies, though you would never know it by looking at them.
Oooh Bless Jesus! (*Does the angelic boogie and bursts into song “He lives in you!” la-la-la-la!!!*) See? it is in you! This caterpillar was walking around with wings tucked inside his body and poor fella didn’t even know, was crawling all over the place when the very sky was waiting to occupy him! Haha!
“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them…” [Genesis 1:27]
Wait, did you read that well?
Before hatching, when a caterpillar is still developing inside its egg, it grows an imaginal disc for each of the adult body parts it will need as a mature butterfly….
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” [Psalm 139:13]
Ok, moving on…
Once a caterpillar has disintegrated all of its tissues except for the imaginal discs, those discs use the protein-rich soup all around them to fuel the rapid cell division required to form the wings, antennae, legs, eyes, and all the other features of an adult butterfly…
Except for the imaginal discs…except for those..then that reaches out to all the elements around needed to grow it to start the formation of the new man. I intend not to say much.
To end this,
Disturbing a caterpillar inside its chrysalis risks botching the transformation.
And that is very important. There is the need for the transformation to be completed. No half-baked, one-winged butterfly but a full grown beauty!
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” [Psalm 139:14]
And when the butterfly emerges from the cocoon, the heavens open and promises burst forth, mingled finely with praise;
But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. 3 For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush[a] and Seba in your stead. 4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life. 5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. 6 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth— 7 everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”
8 Lead out those who have eyes but are blind, who have ears but are deaf. 9 All the nations gather together and the peoples assemble. Which of their gods foretold this and proclaimed to us the former things? Let them bring in their witnesses to prove they were right, so that others may hear and say, “It is true.” 10 “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he.