(If you’re new here, welcome! This is week three of the Metamorphosis series. To catch up on the previous weeks, please click here.)
A mother butterfly is incredibly intentional about where she lays her eggs, because once the egg hatches, the caterpillar emerges and immediately starts on the very important work of eating the very leaf they were born onto.
Right there — where they were birthed, is the exact food the mom intended for it to eat. Not the leaf on the plant next to it, not the one down the street. That one. Right where they are.
Caterpillars grow very quickly — however, their skin does not stretch or grow. So in order to grow to full size, it molts and sheds its skin several times. For a Christian, the molting and shedding of old skin is a process that happens over and over again, regardless of age, maturity or season of life.
When we continue to feast on the Word, we grow and learn and understand. And it becomes necessary to shed the old wineskin and embrace a new one. And it all happens in the process of crawling.
The Crawling Phase
The crawling phase is all about growth. By design, it would seem that God’s intent in the crawling/caterpillar phase is to feast and grow, feast and grow. Yes, molting and shedding is required. Yes, the wineskin is supposed to be regenerated.
But to me, the focus of this phase seems to be on the growing, not the pain of the shedding.
The focus is on eating and growing right where you are.
But crawling is a place we get stuck in, isn’t it? Belly to the ground, we tend to take an entirely different perspective as we crawl, don’t we? Instead of eating and growing right where God has planted us, we look around and want to eat what everyone else is eating. Instead of focusing on the fact that we’re actually growing and maturing, we focus on the pain of the shedding of our old skins.
Such a limited point of view we have for such a powerful and omniscient process.
I don’t know why God chooses to work the way He does. I’ve oftentimes reminded Him how much easier things would be if He would just snap His holy fingers and make it all happen the way I interpret it should.
But He is so methodical, so deliberate in His strategies, that it’s only in hindsight we gain understanding about why things happen the way they do.
And those times we don’t gain understanding, we gain peace and an “okay not knowing-ness” that is supernatural.
Or at least we should.
I often think about David from the Bible. A prophetic word is birthed in him that he will be king! And he almost immediately begins his crawling season. For years he runs from King Saul and his enemies, remaining in hiding, questioning his calling and wondering where God is. Crawling and crawling and crawling through deserts and caves and strange towns.
“I’ve done nothing wrong, yet they rush ahead to start the assault. I beg You to help me; come and see for Yourself!” (Psalm 59:4, The Voice)
“Save me from those who are chasing me. Rescue me, or else they will tear me to pieces as a lion devours his prey; they will carry me off with no one to snatch me from their jaws.” (Psalm 7:1-2, The Voice)
But David — amazing David — while he technically is a caterpillar for years, doesn’t allow himself to remain in a mindset of crawling, ever. When you read each of his psalms, his questioning and wondering always — always — turn back to understanding and peace.
“But me? I will sing of Your strength. I will awake with the sun to sing of Your loving mercy because in my most troubled hour, you defended me. You were my shelter. (Psalm 59:16, The Voice)
“God is my defender; He rescues those who have a pure heart.” (Psalm 7:10, The Voice)
There is no better example to me of one who allows God to molt and shed his skin so that he might grow. God could have snapped His holy fingers to make David king instantly — but God was more concerned with David’s character than He was his kingship.
Just like God is more concerned with our character than our calling. (tweet)
And David remembers his anointing, remembers His God, eats on the leaf he’s been given, and continues to crawl and feast and grow.
Because that’s where our growth happens. That’s where we learn to “use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5, The Message)
Because here’s the hard truth — God cannot bring to fulfillment His definition of the word birthed in us unless we have eaten and crawled and molted and grown. That includes letting go of our interpretation of how things will work out in order to embrace His powerful and omniscient process.
Is it easy? No. Is there a formula? No. Just look at everyone in the Bible — from Sarai to the Israelites to David to the disciples — the crawling phase was a different length of time for each one of them. And there was no “magical moment” to replicate that will cause our crawling to come to an end.
And while that sounds hopeless, it’s actually incredibly empowering.
We get to choose how we think and what we think on. We get to remember our God and eat His word, feasting as much as we want to. We get to pray at any moment, any day, and know He is close and will not forsake us. We have so many more tools at our disposal in which to survive crawling than Sarai, or the Israelites, or David or the disciples did.
To use a tired cliche, we truly have it all.
My friend, you are not nearly as stuck as you think you are. Choose to look up, think big and elevate your mindset. Crawling keeps your belly to the ground, but praising keeps your soul to the sky.
Are you in a season of crawling right now? I’d like to pray for you.
My sweet Lord, I lift up my sister to you now. The one who feels worthless and alone, the one who feels like nothing will ever change in her circumstance. I pray you will fill her mouth with songs of praise and remembrances of Who You Are, not just What You Do. Bring to her mind every instance where you brought her through the crawling and into flying. Show her where to eat, what to eat and how to praise. And Lord, just for me, so she knows it’s truly you — please send her butterflies as a reminder. In your precious name.