Altars of Grace

I felt strongly led to repost something I wrote last year. I’m not sure why, but I’m going with it. Blessings!  

* * *


To journey toward holiness is to walk where the sidewalk never ends. And the path is littered with altars along the way — altars of remembrance and altars of sacrifice.

“Here…on the left…this is where God remembered me and met me and parted the sea for me.”

“Over here, on the right…this is where I laid down my Isaac. There was no thicket, there was no ram.”

 ”And up here just a little bit…this is where God got a hold of me and blinded me. And it took awhile for the scales to be removed, but then I was able to see.”

These little altars are mile markers of progress on a path that will take a lifetime to travel.

As you walk along the path, you are showered with grace. Grace falling like snow into blankets of insulation. Grace falling like rain bringing water to a thirsty soul. Grace shining like the sun and illuminating His glory. Grace falling like fall leaves, where the slightest hint of the wind brings them to submission and piles them high where it’s all you can do not to just JUMP in without concern for bugs or spiders or slithering enemies.


Holiness is unattainable without it — yet it is given, not demanded. We cannot demand the snow insulate the earth. We cannot demand the rain hydrate the soil. We cannot demand the sun illuminate our face. And we cannot demand the wind to shake loose the dry leaves from its branch.

For the leaves only fall when the Spirit blows through them. And their fall is gentle and silent, not loud and demanding.

Grace does not give permission to remain unholy.

Grace does not give permission to remain unholy. (tweet)

Instead, grace is the bumper along the path of holiness…that path where the sidewalk never ends…that path littered with altars…grace is piles of fallen leaves and banks of snow and pools of rain, guard rails that keep you from falling over the edge.

When unholiness beckons and summons you like the enemy of Wisdom, go to your altars. The altars of remembrance and the altars of sacrifice…stop on your unending sidewalk and visit them. Remember the things the Lord has done for you — the miracles He performed, the rams He provided and the sight He restored.

Lay back on them like they were lush, green pastures and use them to restore your soul.

And after you have waited on the Lord and renewed your strength, get back up again and continue walking forward toward holiness. Soak in the Spirit as it blows grace all around you, assured it will guard you, should you stumble.

“The ways of right-living people glow with light; the longer they live, the brighter they shine. But the road of wrongdoing gets darker and darker — travelers can’t see a thing; they fall flat on their faces.” (Proverbs 4:18-19, The Message)

week 8: wrap-up (metamorphosis: embracing a life of becoming)


Welcome! We’re wrapping up our series on embracing a life of becoming. If you’ve new to this series, I invite you to read the previous weeks if you want to catch up!

Week 1 – Birthing, Part 1
Week 2 – Birthing, Part 2
Week 3 – Crawling, Part 1
Week 4 – Crawling, Part 2
Week 5 – Cocooning, Part 1
Week 6 – Cocooning, Part 2
Week 7 – Flying

Transformation is a wholly biblical concept. Not only do we see it played out chapter by chapter, as God’s people experience metamorphosis, but God has also hidden the concept of metamorphosis in multiple places throughout the Bible.

Romans 12:2 says,

“Be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind.”

The Greek word for transformed is metamorphoo, which means, “change into another form, to transform, to transfigure.

It’s the same word used to describe the transfiguration of Jesus in Matthew 17:2 and Mark 9:2,

“There he was transfigured before them.”

And it’s also the same word used in 2 Corinthians 3:18 when Paul says to the people of Corinth,

“Now all of us, with our faces unveiled, reflect the glory of the Lord as if we are mirrors; and so we are being transformed, metamorphosed, into His same image from one radiance of glory to another, just as the Spirit of the Lord accomplishes it.” (The Voice)

This life we live here on earth — it is divinely designed to transform. To transfigure…change form. As we discussed before, a true and complete metamorphosis happens when all four stages of a butterfly’s life come to pass — birthing, crawling, cocooning, flying.

And the same goes for us.

So what does it mean to change into one with wings…one who is free and can fly?

In 2 Corinthians 3:18 above, the Greek word for image is eikon, which means “an image, a likeness. The image of the Son of God, into which true Christians are transformed, is likeness not only to the heavenly body, but also to the most holy and blessed state of mind, which Christ possesses.” (Emphasis mine)

When we metamorphose, we reflect Jesus. True Christians are transformed into the image of God. But we aren’t just made into His image and don’t just reflect His image — we are transformed into it. And not just into an image of Jesus’ heavenly body, but also to the most holy and blessed state of mind of Christ.

It all ties together? Do you see?

We are transformed by the renewing of our mind; we are transfigured into the likeness of Christ’s most holy and blessed state of mind.

And like 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, it’s a process. It’s from one radiance of glory to another — or as other translations say, “from glory to glory.”

1 Thessalonians 5:23 tells us, “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.”

From one phase into another phase — from one time of metamorphosis into another time. And each time, our wings get bigger and more beautiful until one day we truly fly the freest of all in heaven.

From glory to glory. Through and through. Over and over. Again and again. Rinse and repeat.

Paul tells the Galatians in 4:19, “My dear children, I feel the pains of birth upon me again, and I will continue to labor for you until the Anointed One is formed completely in you.”

The word formed here is morphoo.

Any guesses as to what it’s a synonym of?

Yep — metamorphoo. Metamorphosis. Thayer’s lexicon says that morphoo is: “To form, literally, until a mind and life in complete harmony with the mind and life of Christ shall have been formed in you.”

Our metamorphosis’ — our transformations, again and again, over and over, rinse and repeat — are to bring us to a place of complete harmony with the mind and life of Christ.

And since that harmony cannot be complete until we are in heaven, of course we have to continue to go through times of birthing, crawling, cocooning and flying. Again and again and again. Because to metamorphose is to completely and utterly change form, from one thing to a wholly other thing. And for us — sinful and earthly creatures, transfiguring into the image of Christ requires endless cycles of transformation.

Listen close, friend. You are not alone in experiencing this. It happens to churches and to families and to individuals and to friends. To corporations and schools. It happens everywhere and it’s happening all around you and in you all the time.

The key is to change your perspective — renew your mind — and realize it has to happen.

My friend, when you’re experiencing a season of crawling because a loss of a loved one, stand firm — because cocooning is coming. When you’re crawling through a season of lack of provision, stand firm — because flying is right around the corner. When you’re soaking in a season of birthing, gird yourself — because the crawling and testing will come. And when you’re flying freely on the wind of the spirit, nod knowingly, understanding with the mind of Christ that another cycle of metamorphosis is just around the corner.

Because it has to be.

But do not lose heart and do not give up and do not give in! God is transforming you into the most beautiful image He could ever transform you into — into the likeness of His son’s heavenly body and most holy and blessed mind.

So embrace your life of becoming. Rest and be still and trust The One who has designed this life to be one of transformation.

You’ll soon fly away, freer than ever.

Thank you so much for sticking with me through this long series. My earnest prayer is that somehow God has been able to speak through it to your specific situation to bring you hope and peace. I pray He has been able to give you a sense of anticipation for tomorrow. You are such a blessing to me.

Much love,


week 7: flying, part 1 (metamorphosis: embracing a life of becoming)


Welcome! We’re wrapping up our series on embracing a life of becoming. If you’ve new to this series, I invite you to read the previous weeks if you want to catch up!

Week 1 – Birthing, Part 1
Week 2 – Birthing, Part 2
Week 3 – Crawling, Part 1
Week 4 – Crawling, Part 2
Week 5 – Cocooning, Part 1
Week 6 – Cocooning, Part 2

We are all too eager to fly, are we not?

We stare at those who are flying with jealousy — wishing we too, could soar freely, letting the wind carry us. And as we watch — jealous and amazed and yearning — we don’t think about the process that brought them to freedom. We don’t think about their birthing and crawling and cocooning phases.

We just assume they’ve always flown — always only known flying — and that we’ll never be as free as them.

And really, we are thisclose to being as free as them. The only difference between us and them is that they chose to fly.

Choosing to emerge from the cocoon is hard. The cocoon felt safe and secure and cozy and warm…and even if it was a cocoon of testing and purifying, there was a sense of safety.

But the cocoon is designed to make us fly. Because that’s when butterflies undergo such a growth that if you surgically remove one wing, the other three will grow larger and it will still. be. able. to. fly.

It’s echoes what Job said — “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.” (Job 13:15)

And coming out of that cocoon — transformed completely — requires everything different from us. It requires standing when we never stood. It requires stretching with limbs we’ve never known. It requires using all things new that were born out of our process…and that feels foreign and unfamiliar and lunky and awkward, to be honest.

And because it’s different from what we’re used to, we avoid it completely.

And we just. never. fly.

While flying is freedom and anticipation, it’s mostly uncomfortable and daunting. It’s an excitement and renewed hope — but it also requires action.

God cannot make us fly. We have to choose to fly all on our own, and trust that we will. (tweet)

And to fly, we have to be the ones to break out of the cocoon. And then we have flap those new wings back and forth and up and down to stretch them out and strengthen them and pump blood to the new bones.

And then, we fly.

The outcome of flying could be very different from what you expect because The One orchestrating our flight has ways that are higher.

And it’s scary and fun and uncomfortable and exhilarating, because we have not been this way before. 

When we allow God to bring us through a metamorphosis, we are free to fly. And that frees us to be and do everything God has planned in advance for us to do. As ones who now fly, we, like birds, are free to:

  • soar high above the earth in the broad expanse of sky (Genesis 1:20)
  • find our footing after the storm (Genesis 8:12)
  • bring food to those in a valley (I Kings 17:6)
  • be known by God (Psalm 50:11)
  • be freed from the net and the trap (Psalm 124:7)
  • be kept safe by the Lord, like Jerusalem (Isaiah 31:5)
  • soar like eagles (Isaiah 40:31)
  • nest in the beautiful cedars (Ezekiel 17:23)
  • not worry about food and drink for ourselves (Matthew 6:26)
  • fly to our place in the desert (cocoon), and are cared for and kept safe from the devil (Rev 12:14)

So we fly in freedom and in purpose, and more — because we more important than the birds (Matthew 10:31). So we fly assuredly and confidently, knowing The One who painted our wings has also painted the skies we fly in. (tweet)

Embracing a life of becoming is to embrace the ebbs and flows of being in process. It’s to recognize what phase of transformation God you’re in, and to settle into it, allowing God to make you a beautiful, flying creature. It’s to stop striving so hard to move on from phase to phase, and to patiently trust that what God is creating is more important than where you are. It’s to recognize the purpose in your phase, and to realize you are not stuck.

It’s to recognize that while you are flying now, you’ll soon be crawling again, too. And to realize that’s not just okay, it’s normal.

Embracing a life of becoming is to flap your wings and take off into the unending sky — and fly.


week 6: cocooning, part 2 (metamorphosis: embracing a life of becoming)


Welcome! We’re over halfway through our series on embracing a life of becoming. If you’ve new to this series, I invite you to read the previous weeks if you want to catch up!

Week 1 – Birthing, Part 1
Week 2 – Birthing, Part 2
Week 3 – Crawling, Part 1
Week 4 – Crawling, Part 2
Week 5 – Cocooning, Part 1

If you’re anything like me, the majority of your 20s were spent crawling. Mine was a running/crawl — running far, far away from things that were hard toward anything (anything) that felt remotely not hard.

But running is still running. And running away also meant I was running toward, and eventually I smacked face-first into the wall and when I came to, God graciously met me, and it was time to cocoon.

My cocooning started with tip-toeing into the only church I felt remotely comfortable in. I slid into a pew in the back row, under the balcony, always 5-10 minutes late.

On purpose.

And I would cry my eyes out.

Every single week I would convince myself I didn’t need to pack Kleenex and every single week for six months I sat on the back row, under that balcony and almost literally cry my eyes out.

The sweet usher would always look at me with compassion and grace in his eyes but never say a word, for which I was eternally grateful. I knew his prayers covered me, and that was all I needed, because I wasn’t sure words existed that could explain what I was going through. So instead, I just sat and allowed God to wash over me with His presence and His word and His healing.

It was painful, but that good kind of painful. That fixing-up-a-skinned-knee kind of painful…it stings but you know it’s for your good, so you’re able to inhale sharply when needed but you don’t faint. A stitching-together kind of painful. That kind.

I never went on Sunday mornings during this time, or Wednesday nights. And certainly not to the singles group. What I was experiencing was so personal and so isolating that I wasn’t ready to talk about it, or try to figure it out and explain it. I just wanted to sit very, very still in it and just be in it.

And so every Sunday afternoon, I would decide I was okay and didn’t need to go to church, and then at 6:30 I’d realize how desperate I was to get there and I’d climb into my car and get to church late. And I’d slip out early as quietly as I slipped in, so as to avoid any conversation, and just sat very, very still in my cocoon for six months.

I could sense when the cocooning season was coming to a close. There was something different about me — in my soul — although I couldn’t identify it. I simply began to feel restless and bored, yet frightened and uncertain. But the overwhelming feeling was that where I was and what I was doing just wasn’t enough.

And one thing remained — I wasn’t the same anymore and was determined not to crawl back to where I came from.

And then it was time.

And one sunny Sunday morning, I used my new and foreign claws to dig myself out of the cocoon. And I walked up the steps to church and the singles group and used my new straw-like tongue to sip the sweet nectar of community.

I hadn’t expected to find others who were in varying stages of metamorphosis. There were eaters and crawlers and cocooners and flyers — but they were all walking their phases together in one big, beautiful, butterfly garden. They were cheering on the eaters and encouraging the crawlers. Praying and loving on the cocooners and celebrating with the flyers.

It was a heavenly vision — a demonstration to me that the next time I crawled, I didn’t have to do it alone. Others would be there to help me.

The Butterfly Keeper was there, in the middle of it all, welcoming me to the fold with his compassionate eyes and unwavering strength, hand extended and palm up.

And He smiled down on me and whispered,

It’s time for you, little one, to fly.

I’m so excited for next week’s post on Flying. God has given me some beautiful imagery, and I pray you’ll come back next Monday to hear what He has to say. Be blessed this week!


week 5: cocooning, part 1 (metamorphosis: embracing a life of becoming)


Thank you for coming back! We’re halfway through our series on embracing a life of becoming. If you’ve new to this series, here are the previous weeks if you want to catch up!


Week 1 – Birthing, Part 1

Week 2 – Birthing, Part 2

Week 3 – Crawling, Part 1

Week 4 – Crawling, Part 2

After all that crawling, the cocoon can be a welcome relief, can it not? The place we can hole up and stop fighting so hard. Where we can regenerate and replenish and let go and be.

And sometimes it is. Sometimes it is a place of safety, of quiet, of introspection and protection and guidance. A time when God lets you have a breather and you exhale and decompress for a spell.

And those cocoons are sweet. They are a respite for a weary soul and precious times to cherish.

There is a challenge in this particular cocoon, though, and that is to fight complacency. Because it’s sure cushy in there and it seems good enough, right? The welcome relief of the crawling being over can be misleading and convince you that you’ve been transformed and are flying.

When really, you’re not flying at all. You’re just stopping.

Absence of pain doesn’t equal freedom. Flying equals freedom. (tweet)

I believe Abram would agree with this. From my perspective, his crawling time was fathering Ishmael with his servant, instead of waiting on God to provide an heir His way. But Abram’s cocooning time was when God changed his name. God said,

To symbolize your foundational role in this covenant, I hereby change your name.” (Genesis 17:5)

And Abram became Abraham and he cocooned for a time, wrapping up in his new name and his wife’s new name. During that time he stopped focusing on the word promised to him and instead interceded for Sodom and Gomorrah. He sheds the skin of fear by pretending for a time that Sarah is his sister, and yet God protects him.

He’s close to God, spoke to by God, protected by God. Flying, right?

But then Isaac is born. At his and Sarah’s old, old age, their son is given to them and then Abraham truly knows what it is to fly, God’s way.

* * *

But the cocooning phase can also be misleading. Sometimes it’s a place of waiting and sheltering and dying to self…and it is easy to think you’re not really cocooning — that instead somehow, you’ve just moved right into Crawling 2.0.

It can be a season of everything being tested — our desires, character and integrity. Where we have to answer the question,

Are you willing to let the caterpillar die, so that the butterfly will live? (tweet)

Like the Israelites. I’m sure when they left Egypt only to wander in the desert they felt as if they entered Crawling 2.0. They grumbled and complained because they couldn’t see the Promised Land they were told they would enter.

But if you look closely, it’s evident they were in a time of cocooning:

  • God led them the entire way, a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.
  • He provided everything for them — food and commandments and clothes that wouldn’t wear out.
  • He tested their will and desires and character and integrity, asking them if they were willing to let their dusty and enslaved caterpillars die so the butterflies might live.

God wants butterflies who know how precious the freedom to fly is…who will not take it for granted.

And while God is helping us shed some of our sinful self when we crawl, it’s in the cocooning that he polishes us.

Cocooning might not feel like a safe place sometimes, but it truly is. Because even in the wrestling with God we do in that chrysalis, it’s where the physical and spiritual transformation happens.

It’s where we get our wings.

And isn’t that the most breathtaking, majestic and awe-inspiring part of the whole transformation? That we go through an actual metamorphosis — the transformation from old to new. That we absolutely and completely change is better than the flying itself.

Many people get stuck in the cocoon and they never emerge and fly. Sometimes it’s because they are too comfortable with the ground and crawling and using their feet — and are too afraid of the sky and using wings, to fly.

Others wait and wait for God to free them from the cocoon, when in reality, the butterfly has to get itself out of the cocoon. It has to use its new claws that are foreign and unfamiliar and dig itself out into a world that is brand new to them, because they are brand new. They can’t even eat the same anymore — their mouths go from having teeth that chew to a long tongue used for sipping.

All that newness is intimidating, sometimes. And so we sit in the cocoon, praying and praying for the day God breaks it open, when He’s watching and saying,

“Get up, get going and move on.” (Deuteronomy 2:24, The Voice)

The cocooning is not a place to fear or to forever hide in. It’s a place God designed for the divine purpose of bringing transformation to your life.

Because it’s only through this transformation that you can do what He designed for you to do.