What Caterpillars Know That Sometimes I Forget

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.photo by frugo

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.  Yesterday, we waved those Palms and we sang, “Hosanna!”  Today, I prepare my heart for the 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.

Naomi walked through that time of deep loss and life-shattering grief.  Her husband dead.  Her sons dead.  The mourning overshadowed her.

She couldn’t be herself any more.  She felt broken beyond repair.  So, she changed her name: Mara or “bitter” (Ruth 1:19-21) because she thought surely God couldn’t transform her tragedy and bring new love, new life, and a Redeemer.

There’s that demon-possessed man, too. When Jesus and the disciples met him, “for a long time …he 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.

 

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2014 Heather King

Where Does it Hurt?

The man collapsed in front of our house.

We didn’t know at first, but it was an unusually cool day in early summer and our windows were open.  We didn’t hear him fall off his bike, hit the ground, or cry out in pain.

What we heard was a voice asking, “Sir, are you okay?”

Hearing that, I glanced out the window and saw the stranger sprawled across the road, his feet still hooked onto his bicycle.  Rain had just started to fall, so I grabbed a jacket, umbrellas, and a blanket and joined the Good Samaritans who had stopped to help.

We did what we could: called 911, covered him to protect from the chill and held the umbrella to block the light rain.

Mostly, though, we tried our best to rouse him.  Did a car hit you?  Do you feel pain?  What’s your name?  How can we help?

Where does it hurt?

That’s the question we returned to so often.  Other than some scrapes on the hand and a small cut to the head, nothing was obvious.  No matter what we asked, how often we asked or how loudly we raised our voices, though, he remained unresponsive.

The chief arrived in his truck with lights flickering.  He placed his hands on the man’s shoulder and picked right up where we left off, “Sir, what’s your name?  Where does it hurt?  Can you tell me what’s wrong?”

Still, there was no response.  So, they loaded him into an ambulance and carried him off to the hospital.

Sometimes when we feel broken and hurting, it’s easy to identify the source of the pain.

We’re hurting because of a broken relationship, death, abuse, job loss, financial crisis, ministry struggles . . .  A physician could hold up an x-ray of our life and instantly reveal the brokenness.  It would light up on the screen showing the exact location with a line of fracture showing how far and how deep.

Maybe we’d even have a therapeutic solution at the ready to make the brokenness heal over time.  A bandage here, a cast there, a medicine or treatment . . . and then we would be whole again.

But there are times when we just hurt.  We feel inexplicable sadness.  We know we are broken, but the x-rays remain unclear about where or how.  Or, perhaps instead of showing a clear-cut fracture, they reveal shattered fragments in a hopeless messy state.

We ask each other all the time, “How are you?” and mostly we say, “fine” or “good” in an off-handed way.

What would happen, though, if one of us said, “I’m sad and I don’t even know why.  I’m feeling broken, tender, easily bruised.  My eyes fill with tears at the slightest provocation.  I’m like an endless source of emotion, just spilling all over the place and I don’t know how to turn off the spout or clean up the mess”?

That would be a conversation stopper.

There’s beauty in a God, though, who knows when “I’m fine” really means we’re not. We can’t fake it with Him.

Nor is our brokenness a mystery.  Maybe we ourselves don’t even understand our sadness, but He does.

When God first met with Hagar, the servant of Abraham and Sarah, as she ran into the wilderness after being abused, He asked her, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” (Genesis 16:8).

Then He paused for her answer, and she had a reply at the ready.  “I’m running away from my mistress.” Simple as that.  Clear and precise brokenness and He ministered to her, giving her promises for her future and instructing her to return home.

Yet, when she desperately fled into the wilderness a second time years later, God asked, “What troubles you Hagar?”

Without a second of pause  . . . without her answer . . . without her breaking into tears and pouring out a confusing response of hurt and pain that just couldn’t explain it all, God kept talking, “Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is” (Genesis 21:17).

He asked because He cared.  Yet, knowing her crisis and her pain, He already had a ministry of provision and comfort for her at the ready without even needing for her to explain it all.

When you face this brokenness too hard to explain or describe, remember that you can bring it to him without a word.  He knows.  He cares.  And He is working to comfort and restore you.

“O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it
(Psalm 139:1-6)

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King