“Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” ~Romans 7:24-25a, NASB
Can I identify with Paul? Absolutely. And I’m finding that it is often in the lonely desert places in my life that God reveals to me the areas that need work. The hidden spots of anger, resentment, selfishness and conceit. He brings them up to the surface so that I can see them for what they are. Yuck.
I don’t like that. I don’t like to see the ugliness stored up inside of me. In frustration and embarrassment, I cry out to him, “Please take it away!”
A question floats to the top at that moment: Take the sin, or just the view of that sin? What is it I really want? Disguise or metamorphosis? Because the thing is, real change takes time and investment. By God’s power, for sure, this heart can be molded, but it requires not only my yielding, but also practice. That’s hard.
During a Sunday school lesson this week I was reminded of this slow process of transformation. We studied the butterfly recently, and talked about how God can transform our lives through Christ, just like that caterpillar is transformed from a worm to a winged creature.
In our home, we recently watched the metamorphosis process. We have a crop of black swallowtail caterpillars hatch on my parsley, and my daughter kept one in her bug jar. She fed it, kept its habitat clean, and watched as the little thing ate and grew, and ate and grew–and then finally change. We noticed a few things while we watched:
- The caterpillar consumed the parsley with ravenous hunger. It didn’t stop to take a nap, nor did it deviate from the parsley. It ate only that herb, and it did it with amazing efficiency. Made me wonder, do I hunger for God’s Word like that?
- The little thing grew proportionally to its eating. It also began taking on a greenish hue in the spots where it had once been white. It began showing on the outside what it was putting in the inside. Am I putting inside what I want to shine through on the outside?
- Once it had nestled in its chrysalis, the waiting began. It took a long time! Daily, the question was, “will it hatch today?” I want to hatch now, but clearly it’s not time. Am I willing to wait for God’s perfect timing?
- Amazingly (and I know that most have seen this happen, so it’s nothing new—except it’s still mind-blowing) when that black swallowtail emerged, she looked nothing like yellow and white (greenish) caterpillar. We watched in wonder while she stretched her new wings, wiggled her new antennae, and tested her new, spindly legs. Everything about her had changed—she was brand new! This brought the Psalms to mind: “Why are you downcast, oh my soul? Put your hope in God!”
That kind of transformation takes time. I’m reminded of the verses we started the week with: “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” (Colossians 3:3-4, NASB)
Who I am in Christ has not yet been entirely revealed. I am hidden, as though in a cocoon, awaiting the day when I will be revealed as I truly am in Him. What a thought! He is not done with me yet.