Baby Steps

Whenever I take on a new activity, start playing a new game, or dig into researching a new topic, my natural desire is that I want to be good at it immediately. This is true whether playing Settlers of Catan the first time, taking trumpet lessons as a kid, or deciding later in life to get into table tennis. The problem is that learning any new skill, art, or subject matter takes time, even for those who seem to be naturally gifted. Some people pick up new skills rather quickly, while others take a bit longer.

This dynamic plays out at our house over and over again. We’ll hear about a new game from our kids or friends; we’ll buy the game and start playing it; my wife will catch on really fast and win the game every single time we play; I get discouraged and never want to play it again. But then I begin to understand the strategies, and start winning once in a while.

The same may be true for new believers. When we’re just getting started in the life of faith, we might not be very good at it yet. We continue in some of our old ways, making a few too many errors, and then we get discouraged and want to quit. But don’t give up, and don’t throw in the towel just yet, my friend. There’s hope for you. In the case of a butterfly, the goal at the start is to be a good egg. Being a good caterpillar will happen later. Eventually, you’ll have a chance at being a great butterfly.

The first noticeable change that happens to a butterfly egg is that a few days after being deposited, it starts to change color.

Many eggs start out light colored like an off-white to a yellow color then change to a dark color or black before the caterpillar comes out. Most caterpillars hatch out of the eggs in 3-7 days. It can vary depending on species and other conditions.

Green or blue eggs may also turn gradually darker, and if you were to look at the eggs through a microscope at just the right time, you’d be able to see the tiny caterpillars starting to develop.

The butterfly life cycle is one of complete transformation . . . in every stage . . . in every part of every stage . . . all the way to the end of its existence. It never stays the same. It’s always changing in some way. Sometimes the changes are easily observable. But sometimes you might not even know the change is happening because it’s subtle . . . or invisible.

This is helpful for us to keep in mind as disciples of Jesus Christ. Change takes time. Learning is incremental. Like Bill Murray’s character in the movie What About Bob, we start with baby steps.

So hang in there. Don’t give up the faith or let go of your commitment to Christ. Don’t quit the church. It may be that the changes are happening at the invisible level right now, and in just a few days you’ll be ready to hatch and become a caterpillar. And then a whole new existence begins.

As the apostle writes in 2 Corinthians 3:18, We all are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory. First steps are always tricky for butterflies, puppies, and people.

The above is an excerpt from my book Butterfly Believers, which can be found on Amazon.com or on this website.

Metamorphosis

Romans 12:2 indicates that we are to be transformed by the renewing of the mind. The word in the Greek text is where we get the English word metamorphosis. Translated as transformed, it is what we use to describe the continuous, remarkable change of form or structure in an individual after hatching or birth.

Several insects undergo complete metamorphosis, such as bees, ants, ladybugs, wasps, and flies. But the most spectacular of the metamorphosing creatures are the butterflies. This is because they are safe, easy to observe, and they are beautiful. These marvelous creatures are called Lepidoptera, which means scaly wings.

Butterflies are special to me for several reasons. First is the fact that they represent the internal and external changes that take place when a person comes to faith in Jesus Christ. Second is the mystery, or as some writers call it, the “magic” of the changes that occur during the transformation process. Third is the gorgeous coloration of so many species. They are delightful to find and examine.

Amazingly, transformation occurs in every stage of the butterfly’s life. There is never a day when an egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, or butterfly is the same as it was the day before. Theirs is literally a continuous transformation. This is also true of people. We are always growing, changing, and becoming. There’s always more to learn, and always room for refinement.

The bottom line is that I find butterflies to be interesting and fun. In the same way, living for Jesus Christ is supposed to be interesting and fun. Many of the terms and processes we use when talking about butterflies are perfect for discussing our growth as children of God.

May the Lord continue his remarkable work of shaping and transforming each of us into his image.

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