There’s always a rebel.
This cup of caterpillars arrives in the mailbox and I set it up high so we can watch them grow.
And do they ever grow.
Within a few days, they start scaling the walls of the plastic cup and demonstrate their acrobatics by clinging to the lid and hanging upside down. First one caterpillar, then another.
Every year, this one lone caterpillar delays. All four of his roommates hang over his head and tuck themselves right up into a chrysalis.
The rebel caterpillar enjoys the food down below, munching at leisure, no more competition for the bug buffet.
Sometimes we wonder if he’ll ever climb on up there already!!
But inevitably he does. One morning, he pads his way up to the top and drops himself upside down just like the others. He wraps himself in the brown chrysalis and waits for the change.
Now all five of them hang in their mesh butterfly house, waiting to emerge. Mostly they rest there, perfectly and completely still.
They look dead.
Totally, completely devoid of all life.
But we move their home just slightly and we see one caterpillar wiggle and squirm inside the chrysalis.
A sign of life now and a sign of life to come.
Could it be these insects know more about hope than we do?
That even in a season of waiting, a time of rest, a moment of seeming-death, still they cling. They submit to the dormancy for the beauty that is to come.
Maybe they know there is something more. That hope and future God promises us, that’s why they climb on up, that’s why they hang themselves right upside down.
Because of what is to come.
And in the middle of the death seasons, the long waits and the God-mandated resting, sometimes we forget this. We can abandon all hope of future, of promise, of new life and the return of joy.
It’s Holy Week. Last Sunday, we waved those Palms and we sang, “Hosanna!” Today, I prepare my heart for Good Friday to come, for Communion and remembrance and meditation on the cross.
I read this morning:
Jesus “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2 ESV).
Jesus knelt in that Garden and He prayed, “not my will, but Yours be done” despite the pain, and the humiliation, the torture, and the death because of the joy to come.
He submitted because of resurrection hope.
And we have this. That empty tomb is our hope, too. Our God, who defeated death and the grave, has a plan and a purpose, a hope, a future. We are never alone. We are fully loved and redeemed, forgiven and set free.
All that is dead can become life in His hands. All that is broken can be beautiful. All that is lost can be found.
He can make all things new.
Even the impossible becomes possible with Him.
That is resurrection joy.
Those caterpillars don’t abandon hope of life. They don’t linger in that tomb of a chrysalis. In due season, they push right on out and stretch and dry those wings so they can fly to freedom.
Jesus didn’t die on that cross hopelessly uncertain of the future. He had his sights set on Sunday morning and the “joy set before Him.” That’s why He endured that cross.
But we sometimes lose hope.
Just like the demon-possessed man who “for a long time …had not lived in a house but among the tombs” (Luke 8:27 ESV).
He lived life in the tombs. Maybe the sorrow felt more comfortable than the joy? Maybe death felt less painful than life?
He preferred the grave.
And then there’s us.
In seasons of waiting, maybe of sorrow, perhaps even of death, do we abandon ourselves to the bitterness and make ourselves cozy among the tombs?
Or do we cling to Christ because of resurrection hope? Do we hold on for dear life to the Savior who defeated death?
Do we hide away in the shadows and settle into the despair or do we run like crazy into His arms when He calls us out of darkness and into light?
So I remember what the caterpillars have known all along: even what seems like death is truly just waiting on new life.
Hold on tight, dear one. He brings new life. He brings beauty. He brings you wings so you can soar.
Originally published April 14, 2014