Do you have any favorite September memories? September often brings memories of back to school, football, and pumpkins. September is also a time of harvest and growth. It’s a season of change, and it can be scary. Do you ever get afraid of something new?
Now, this is what the Lord says, the one who created you, O Jacob, and formed you, O Israel: “Don’t be afraid, for I will protect you. I call you by name, you are mine… “Look, I am about to do something new. Now it begins to happen! Do you not recognize it? Yes, I will make a road in the desert and paths in the wilderness. Isaiah 43:1 &19 (NET)
I’ll never forget on special September memory. I was in the third grade at a brand new school. My entire grade had 25 students in it. That alone was something new. Two of my classmates, Andrew and Jill, came to school saying how they found monarch caterpillars. Well, of course I wanted one. I mean a chance to watch a capitular turn into a monarch butterfly? That would be amazing! (This was long before you could just order some online and raise them inside.) I had also been obsessed with the book “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle when I was younger. I was on a quest to find a monarch caterpillar.
I learned they liked to eat milkweed plants. Being kid who was always in the woods, I knew exactly where to look. Every fall was a chance to watch those pods break open, and blow the wispy seeds everywhere. Of course, the easy spot yielded nothing.
One Saturday evening my dad took me fishing at a small pond near our house. There were a few milkweed plants there, but none had a caterpillar. So we enjoyed an evening fishing. I could bait my own hook by the time I was five. That night I managed to catch a few bluegills, my dad’s shirt, some weeds, a tree branch, some catfish, my dad’s arm, some cattail plants, a stick, and my dad’s jeans. Before someone lost an eye he decided it was time to head home. I’m not sure why, but he insisted on taking care of the hook. (He acted like I was dangerous or something.) I put my red and white bobber in my pink tackle box as my dad tried to find the hook without impaling himself. I figured I’d check those milkweed plants one more time.
There it was!
I think any remaining fish were startled away, but not nearly as startled as my dad was when I yelled. (Like I’m one to hide excitement? By the time I was eight he should’ve been used to it.) There was a monarch caterpillar on the back of the plant munching on a leaf. He was a smart little guy. He waited to crawl up to a vulnerable place on the plant and eat his dinner until after he realized the eight-year-old master angler girl and mellow father’s presence would ensure no predators would be around to have him for dinner.
That caterpillar had one main job. He needed to grow, and to grow he needed to eat the right food. He was smart about what he chose to eat. Milkweed is poisonous to many predators, so it helped him stay alive. He also waited to come out into the open until it was safe. The same thing is true for us. If you find yourself in a season of growth or where it looks like not much is happening on the outside, dive deep into the Word of God and worship. Hiding God’s word in your heart keeps you safe. You might not know what it is yet, but God has plans for you, and you need to be strong and ready.
After I assured him this was a monarch caterpillar, my dad carefully cut part of that plant so the little guy wouldn’t fall, and would also have more food than he could eat. My dad also made sure there were plenty of branches so he could spin his chrysalis on one. we got home, my dad carefully cut out the top of a large box and replaced it with a fine mesh screen. He placed the plant and some water inside. That caterpillar had a home that was safe from 2 curious cats, and we could see everything.
A few days later I came home and the box was empty, or at least I thought it was. The box wasn’t empty, I had to look harder. In just eight short hours that little guy had spun his chrysalis. I almost didn’t see it. The shade of green was almost identical to the shade of the leaves. What did fascinate me was near the top it looked almost as if someone had woven a small golden thread.
The chrysalis stage is fascinating. This is where major change takes place. On the outside it looks like nothing is going on, but inside it’s an entirely different story. The same is true for you as well. Once that caterpillar creates the chrysalis, it undergoes a radical change. Think for a minute. Is there anything about that caterpillar that would suggest it will soon have wings and fly? Inside that tiny chrysalis something crazy happens. That caterpillar doesn’t just change and grow, most of it is actually reduced to a liquid like state. I don’t know about you, but there are plenty of times I’ve felt like my heart was put in a blender, yet on the outside everything looked just fine. Things on the outside may not show the change because God is protecting you, just like that chrysalis was camouflaged. It’s in those moments, when nothing makes sense, we need to remember the promises of God we read in His word during that season of growth. We don’t see the end yet. In fact, it seems even farther away than before, but it’s coming much sooner than we think.
For over a week I watched that chrysalis looking for any sign of change. I had no idea what it would look like when the butterfly emerged. On Friday evening my mom and I were headed to our weekly swimming time at the YWCA, and the chrysalis seemed darker. When we got home, I watched it for as long as my sleepy eyes would stay open. The green had given way to a greyish color, and it was slowly becoming transparent.
On Saturday morning I had zero desire to watch cartoons. Bugs Bunny could wait. That soon to emerge butterfly had my full attention. The chrysalis was almost completely transparent, and I wondered how those big wings could fit in that tiny chrysalis.
Then, it moved!
I yelled for my mom, and we watched as he slowly broke free from his dark tight home. It was fascinating to see him spread his wings. They looked a little damp and almost sticky. Once he was out, it was time to take him outside. So we took the box out and opened the lid. It took him a bit to realize he could fly, even then he was wobbly. He was getting the hang of his newfound freedom, then landed on my arm. Slowly he crawled up my arm and let me really look at him. His orange was vibrant against the black stripes and white dots. Then he fluttered away. That day when I was playing outside, a monarch butterfly came close several times. I have no way of knowing if it was him, but I like to think so.
Isn’t that just like God? Once we surrender our will and let Him make us into who He knows we are supposed to be, something amazing happens. Sometimes the end result feels so close that you want to just spread your wings and break free. When you finally do, you suddenly realize you’re not used to this new phase. It’s exciting and scary. You feel wobbly and it takes some time to get the hang of it, but God is there making sure you’re safe.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence God let me find a monarch caterpillar. That guy is named for royalty. You are a royal child of the King of Kings. So, whatever season you find yourself in now, remember there is a purpose for it. Focus on what you need to do now, not the future. Rest and know God has your future covered.
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8 (NIV)
Are you on the Jesus in Every Moment Email List? There are some exciting changes coming and you’ll be there first to know. There will also be some exclusive freebies only for mailing list members. Click on the box on the right (bottom if you’re on mobile) to sign up today.