week 4: crawling, part 2 (metamorphosis: embracing a life of becoming)

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I’m sorry I didn’t post last week. I was at the beach and was so caught up in fun and sun and family quality time…I decided to throw some grace at my feet and take time off (albeit unannounced time off). It was just what my soul needed. Thank you for understanding!

If you’re new here, welcome! This is week four of the Metamorphosis series. To catch up on the previous weeks, please click here. Be sure to scroll down and start with the Introduction.)

I’m certain I could not have escaped the crawling, since as I see it now, the crawling is essential to our growth. But had I listened, paid attention, heeded the warnings and signs and admonitions…I’m certain the molting and shedding process would have been less painful.

It still would have been painful (they don’t call them growing pains for nothing), but it would have been less… excruciating, I guess.

My crawling time after God gave me the word — the birthing — was excruciatingly painful.

The warnings came various ways and through various people. Be on guard was the message sent and after the third time, I was determined. I thought I knew what to do and how to prepare. I decided I knew what to be on guard of, so I took every precaution to fully guard that territory. City walls went up, soldiers on guard, prayer encircled around me.

I had no idea the territory God was really after to grow was in a whole other continent, far, far away…seemingly small and otherwise disregarded.

I didn’t know.

I remember the day the crawling started. I remember the exact moment — what I was wearing and where I was headed and that it was even in the afternoon. It started with the simplest statement — triggering a then-unknown need in me. I was instantly filled up and fed and felt special and important and immediately, all I began paying attention to was that.

The more I paid attention to that, the faster it took on a life of its own. It snowballed and blossomed and I knew it! I knew it deep in my soul that it was wrong and that I could stop myself at any moment. And yet, I felt completely out of control and helpless. It felt bigger than me and badder than me and seemed to bring out all the ugly I promised myself I would never have. Ever.

The shedding and molting of ourselves as we crawl leaves raw and ugly in its wake. (tweet)

It was a literal and physical tug-of-war between my flesh and my spirit. I could physically feel myself being pulled apart and it ached desperately. All day, every day, I was the epitome of Paul,

Listen, I can’t explain my actions. Here’s why: I am not able to do the things I want; and at the same time, I do the things I despise.” (Romans 7:15, The Voice)

So I spent all day not doing the things I wanted and at the same time doing the things I despised.

I crawled and despised. Day after day.

For months.

As I walked with eyes wide open into places I knew I shouldn’t go, the red flags would billow all around me shouting, Warning! Danger!and yet I would walk in and hand over my identity and worth and dignity and volunteer to crawl.

Isn’t that something? I was already in a crawling season, and I willingly went lower. Crawled harder. Made an already painful time unbearable.

But can I tell you a secret?

Every single day that I crawled…every day that I poured shame over my head and lathered up in guilt, Jesus stood across from me. He stood there watching, not with eyes of disapproval or anger or disgust, but with eyes of compassion and eagerness. His eyes held eagerness and unwavering strength and His tender hand was extended out to me, palm up. Every single day.

And the days that I refused His hand and turned my back to His eyes, He called out behind me,

I love you! You’re not alone! I am not ashamed of you! You can get through this with My strength, just ask! Ask and believe you’re worth it!

I crawled and despised, day after day. And He simply watched and extended and called, day after day.

For months.

I sometimes look back at that time in my life and realize the crawling could have been less painful had I heeded the warnings. If I had paid attention to the things that felt slightly off-center and askew, and the things that felt like they were a complete one-eighty from the Truth that I knew. Or maybe it wouldn’t have been less painful, but not lasted as long. The opportunities God gave me to get out were daily.

However.

I’m a firm believer in not wasting time regretting. That’s the first and easiest way to remain stuck in a season of crawling. Instead, I believe in remembering the past, praising God for what you learned, and then flying. on.

So I choose to look back and realize it probably couldn’t have happened any other way. There was too much for God to transform in me. All the ugly had to rise to the surface so He could skim it off. And while I wish desperately at times that I would have been smarter, more aware, stronger…I realize that it happened exactly the way it did because it had to.

The beauty of the crawling phase is that it will come to and end. Sometimes God decides it’s over, and sometimes we have to take one extremely difficult step and He meets us there.

But most blessedly, so we can fully recover when it’s done, God then brings us into a time of cocooning.

My friend, I don’t know exactly where you are today. But if you are in a crawling season, feeling a very real tug-of-war of spirit and flesh, I urge you to please look over your shoulder. See Jesus, right there? He’s the one standing still, watching you intently and interceding for you. His eyes hold no disappointment or anger. Only compassion and love, and an eagerness for you to put your hand in His and to walk on. His forgiveness and mercy are greater than the crawl. I promise.

Love,

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week 3: crawling, part 1 (metamorphosis: embracing a life of becoming)

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(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)

and

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)

and

“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.

The time span of our crawling phase is not near as important as our mindset during it. (tweet)

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.

Because while crawling is a spiritual phase we must go through to grow, it is not a mindset we have to stay anchored to. (tweet)

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.

Amen.

Love,

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