Saturday, March 15, 2014
In Florida, at least, it’s that time of year where all around us there are signs of spring. The deciduous trees are not yet in full foliage, but lightly shaded in pale green. Wildflowers break through the soil and dance around the graves of last year’s annuals. New bird songs break the silence in the woods, a melody nearby answered with a far-off refrain, while prospective mates who have already found one another begin the courtship ritual of chasing and retreating, noisy chatter yielding to sweeter strains and ultimately to chirping chicks.
Strange holes appear by the path, making us wonder about what dug them – mud wasps about to aerate the garden soil, squirrels retrieving their hidden stash of nuts to nourish them through a new mating season, or something more sinister like a snake? I think about covering these holes up in case the creatures emerging from them might do us harm, but then I remember the parable of the wheat and tares (Matthew 13:24-30). If we don’t know how something will turn out, we should give God a chance to use it for our good!
When I used to live up North, spring was even more welcome than it is here in Florida, and I suspect even more so this year after the record-breaking winters. Faint golden sunbeams begin to melt the hard cast of snow, ice, and sleet, freeing the frozen earth beneath from its long period of immobility yet healing. Buds break forth from bare branches, promising delicate blossoms and vibrant greenery.
Spring is the time we officially celebrate our Lord’s resurrection from the dead, on Easter Sunday. How miraculous that the Creator of all took on human flesh, showed us how to live, sought and saved us, suffered and died to pay for all our sins, and on the third day arose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) so that all who trust in Him as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6) would have eternal life! Yet we should begin and end each day celebrating this truth, which alone can save us and change our eternal destiny!
Once we are saved, we are a new creature in Christ, dead to the old self and alive to His Spirit within us, giving us His power to make all things new – our lifestyle, character, heart, and desire to be like Him ( 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15). This change is so dramatic that we are “born again” (John 3:3-7).
In our dance ministry, we paid homage to that theme in our piece “Transformed,” (link to video) in which a lowly, fearful, drab caterpillar changes into a free, joyous, vibrant, high-flying butterfly. This dance begins with the narrative:
Transformed: darkness to light; earth to Heaven; death to everlasting life.
In the physical, how does that transformation occur? With perfect timing in its God-breathed life cycle, the caterpillar attaches itself to a twig and forms a shell, or chrysalis, around itself. Within that chamber, it releases digestive enzymes that completely destroy itself, releasing a pool of raw materials that form new tissues unique to the butterfly and completely different from those of the caterpillar. The new creature develops wings as delicate and intricate as fine lace.
But before the butterfly can take flight, it has to free itself from the chrysalis, representing what is left of its old self. As the fragile wings fight to emerge, the abdomen pumps fluid into the wings to strengthen them. The butterfly must then rest upside down while sunlight dries its wings. Without the struggle to be free, the butterfly cannot fly or even survive. If you happen to spot a fragile butterfly in this stage, never cut the chrysalis to “help” the butterfly, for its wings will shrivel up and it will die. What a beautiful metaphor of God working through trials for our good and His glory! (Romans 8:28)
Does this complex process of death leading to new life (1 Corinthians 15:20-49 )sound like evolution by chance, or like the amazing work of an infinitely creative Designer? If God has so meticulously crafted the life cycle of a butterfly, how much more has He planned for us (Jeremiah 29:11), not only in the physical but in the spiritual? Only God can make a butterfly from a caterpillar, and only He can transform us in so many life-changing and destiny-reversing ways:
--From worldly darkness to His light (Romans 12:2, Ephesians 4:22-24), which represents the turning away from our sin and being clothed in His righteousness! (Psalm 51:1-10; Isaiah 61:10; Romans 5:15-18; 6:18; 8:1-2; Hebrews 10:14-17)
--From corruptible bodies on earth to glorified bodies in Heaven! (2 Corinthians 5:1-8; Romans 8:18-23; 1 Corinthians 15:50-54)
--From eternal death in hell (Romans 8:7; Colossians 1:21), to abundant, eternal life with Him in Heaven! (John 3:16, 10:10; Romans 6:4-11,23)
--From defeat to victory! (Philippians 3:12-14; Psalm 30:1)
--From sadness to joy! (Psalm 30:5,11; Revelation 21:4-5)
--From anxiety to peace! (Philippians 4:6-9)
--From enemies of God (Romans 5:10) and children of the devil to children of the King, joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:14-17), ambassadors appointed to spread the Good News of the Gospel (Philippians 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 3:8; 1 Corinthians 16:13-15; 2 Corinthians 5:20), and even future priests and rulers within His Kingdom! (Revelation 20:6)
Praise God that in Christ, we are a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17)! Once we are transformed at the moment of salvation (Romans 6:4), His Spirit will continue to mold us into His image, if we yield to Him (Philippians 1:6). One day, believers in Christ will experience the ultimate, instantaneous transformation as He returns for us in the Rapture (1 Corinthians 15:51-52), giving us glorified bodies that will never age, feel pain, or die (Philippians 3:20-21; Colossians 3:4).. Then we will be completely new creatures fit for eternity with Him!
© 2014 Laurie Collett