Perfect Timing

This last month, I discovered a swallowtail caterpillar residing in one of my celery plants. The large caterpillar seemed to appear out of nowhere. Curious, I researched the image to discover it would be a Eastern Black Swallowtail. I rigged up a gallon-sized jar with a net over it and dug up a celery plant soaked in a smaller jar of water. It was very slow moving the first few days, which concerned me. Then it moved quickly to find a space to hang. Several days later my hopes were realized as it formed it’s chrysalis. Then the waiting began.

We raised several caterpillars in the past for our kids’ home school science discovery, so I knew what to expect. It’s fascinating to actually see the caterpillar transform even into its protective casing. I wasn’t able to observe the change this time, but I was sure excited to find the chrysalis had formed. The internet told me it may take anywhere from 1-2 weeks for the swallowtail to hatch. One week passed, then ten days and two weeks.

I was beginning to worry. Did it survive? To keep the celery plant moist and alive, I often removed it along with the chrysalis completely out of the large jar to water. The chrysalis was hanging off one of the stems. I began to worry I messed up it’s system and killed it. I have read that the caterpillar literally liquefies as it is being changed.

I couldn’t believe my reaction to the whole event. I have never worried over a caterpillar before. (What’s wrong with me?) The two-week mark had passed. Then another day. And another began.

Finally, I noticed a subtle change. The chrysalis was getting darker. A few hours later and more prominent markings began to appear. Black wings with bright yellow spots revealed a new butterfly body beneath an almost clear casing. Hope was renewed and I couldn’t wait to see the big reveal!

Another hour or two and my daughter alerted me. It’s still alive and well! The beauty was astounding. The dark wings began to pump up and reveal bright blue, orange and yellow spots against the stark black wings. (At first observation, I believed it as a boy, but I now think it’s a girl. If anyone knows better, let me know!)

God knew the perfect timing. What appeared dead, became alive, not only alive but radiating with God’s magnificent art. How can anyone see such a miracle and not give God the glory? Man can not create what He has done!

As mentioned above, I’ve seen many butterflies grow over the years from Painted Ladies from a mail-in kit to Checkered Silver Spots my daughter brought in that were splurging on our sunflower leaves one summer. It’s funny; I really don’t know why I worried this time whether this caterpillar was going to make it. Maybe it’s because I knew it would be extra special. I knew the potential of this beautiful creature.

Isn’t this sometimes how we react to our own growth and healing? In the same way, I have a tendency to worry over my own life, not just the physical healing, but mental, emotional and spiritual. I worry about whether I will truly overcome my bad habits and hang-ups. One day I do well, and everything seems to fall into place. Another day, everything seems to fail. I wonder if I’m truly growing in good fruit and following the way of the Lord, or if I’m just fumbling around life making a big mess of things. I start to listen to lies and old belief systems that have in-grained within me based on past hurtful experiences rather than truth.

But I am learning. As I look back on who I used to be, I see I’m also changing. I see places in which I used to fear. For instance, I used to worry when finances were super tight. Finances ebb and flow. And as they do, I have learned that God is always faithful to care for us. He has promised this in scriptures. We don’t have to worry about food or clothes; just as He makes sure the birds are provided for, so are we. (see Matthew 6:25-34) Greg and I have tested and proven God’s care is consistent. It may not always be as we wish. Things still get tight now and then. And as they do we keep practicing trust and hoping. Sometimes the pressures seem overwhelming. Sometimes we have to let go of far more than we wish, and we feel heartbroken and even discouraged if we aren’t careful. But we are learning that we can see each trial as opportunity to watch where God is faithful. He was faithful in the past. He will continue again and again to be faithful. And it’s always on time, never too late.

There are other places I see growth as well, like being able to speak or lead in front of groups. As an extremely shy and sensitive child, you would have never thought I could manage it. Where I used to overreact to things, I let go, and let God handle. Numerous situations used to make me angry, quick-tempered and impatient. Now, far less triggers such response, and I find myself far more empathetic; all because Christ is working in and through me to change who I use to be into something far more beautiful. I’m thankful, because I long to be life-giving, not life-draining on others.

It’s a helpful activity now and then to step back and reflect. Where were you in the past? Where are you today? Do you see how you have grown as you trusted the Lord to heal your hurts? What temptations or bad habits are you still challenged with? Do you have certain triggers that tempt you one way or another? Ask the Lord to show you. Believe me; He will, because He wants to see the best you, the you He pictured when He first had you in mind. He sees and hopes for your beautiful potential, just as I hoped for what I knew would be a gorgeous butterfly!

In the meantime, we need to learn to be patient with ourselves and our healing. It takes time to change. When I had brain surgery years ago, we had to work to retrain my brain to get the muscles in my foot and leg to work again. I had to recreate the pathways that told the leg what to do. In the same way, we must allow the Lord to help us create new pathways in order to transform our thinking. (see Romans 12:1-2)

We have to do our part. I couldn’t just sit around and expect my brain to create the pathways. Thankfully, I had a physical therapist who knew what muscles needed work. He taught me the exercises and I continued them at home as well as in session. It took daily intentional practice and it wasn’t long I moved from wheelchair to walker, then free!

I believe God wants us to join in the work He is doing, even in us. He wants us to make the choices to continue each day to stay away from temptation and choose the right way. We no longer have to think according to our sin patterns and bad habits. It’s not just our minds we are changing, but our hearts and souls. We are not alone in the process. In fact, it is God himself who gives you the will to follow his purposes. (see Phil 2:12-13.) We are free in Him!

In Celebrate Recovery as well as other avenues, I hear often “Progression, not perfection.” As long as we are choosing to surrender our lives daily, we are progressing in our healing. Day by day we are changing, even though we can’t see it. Characteristics of Christ begin to shine in us, such as kindness, gentleness, self-control and forgiveness. Just as that butterfly had perfect timing to change, so do we. And one day, just as the butterfly was completely set free to fly, we will also feel free to fly as completed, renewed creation, shining in the light of His glory. I can’t wait for that day! Can you?

Eve Garrison

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *