In warm, tropical areas of the earth, a caterpillar might emerge from the egg just two days after it was placed on the host plant, but in the colder, northern parts of the world, such as in the Arctic regions, it takes longer. The variations of time often have to do with the temperature. But if it survives, whether a caterpillar was in the egg 3 days, 3 weeks, or 3 months, the end result is the same. A voraciously hungry caterpillar bites and claws its way out and starts eating whatever suitable vegetation it can find so it can build up the bulk and stamina it’s going to need later on.
There’s an important lesson here for Butterfly Believers who live in an era of instant gratification. When we want something, we usually want it right now. But spiritual growth takes time. Personal maturity requires many years. Building a lasting relationship, whether with another person or with God, doesn’t happen instantly. So we have to be patient, persistent, and faithful.
Every college football player has the dream of getting into the NFL and being a smashing success right from the beginning of the rookie year: starting every game, being in the playoffs, winning the championship, making big money, receiving the MVP trophy, everything. The reality is that it takes most players several years to reach their peak. After years of working hard, maybe with a couple of injuries and failures, they finally get to the place of consistent, high-level performance . . . if they last long enough in the league.
The same is true in our walk with the Lord. We have high hopes. We want to be mature and spiritually deep. We feel an urgency to participate in ministry. But the sometimes-painful truth is that we might not be ready for that yet, which is why James said Not many of you should become teachers (James 3:1) and Paul wrote that a leader in the Kingdom of God must not be a recent convert (1 Timothy 3:6).
There’s another reason for being patient. When we try to rush the process, we tend to set ourselves up for failure or disillusionment, and this can be devastating, leading many to drop out of church or give up the faith entirely.
In the same way caterpillars have to be patient and hatch at the right time, and just like athletes have to develop skills over time and earn a starting spot on the team, Butterfly Believers will focus on the Lord, allow spiritually mature brothers and sisters to provide discipleship and mentoring, not pretend to be more mature than they really are, and not try to take on leadership responsibilities too soon.
The above is an excerpt from Butterfly Believers, one of several books that may be perfect for individual reading or group discussion. My wife (Linda) put together this jigsaw puzzle that shows a variety of mature butterflies.