We All Begin In The Dirt: What Butterflies Can Teach You About Life in Christ

For my oldest daughter’s birthday, my sister-in-love, a preschool teacher, decided to forgo the usual gifts of princesses, baby dolls, or crafts, and instead get Makaylan a Live Butterfly Adventure. A few days later we received a package with six tiny caterpillars inside. I, for the first time, was able to obverse – up close – the life cycle of a butterfly. It’s been fascinating to watch as these once creepy, crawly “bugs” have turned into six beautiful creatures. Watching this process has brought new life and meaning to some spiritual truths.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come. (2 Cor 5:17)

First, we all begin in the dirt.

The day our six caterpillars arrived, I was shocked to find them crawling around in dirt. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle is a favorite book in our home. It tells the story of a hungry caterpillar who eats and eats and eats until he is ready to go into his cocoon. However, he eats leaves, fruit, and candy. As silly as it may seem, I didn’t expect to receive a jar full of dirt with crawly bugs inside. In my mind, they would be crawling on more sophisticated, cleaner things, like limbs and leaves. I watched as these caterpillars grew fat and dirty, all the while, eating more than their body weight in food.

I am reminded that, before Jesus awakens our soul and calls us to Himself, all we can do is crawl in the dirt. As a college pastor’s wife, every year I see Satan take a beautiful young woman, convince her she was made to feast off the dirt of life, and then eventually destroy herself. Maybe this is where you are in your life. The enemy has convinced you that you are nothing more than a “bug” that is destined to crawl around on your stomach and eat whatever the world throws at you. Please hear me: You don’t have to stay there. God has made you for more than what you are allowing the enemy to tell you. God wants to take you out of the dirt (sin) of life and do something amazing – transforming – in your life. 

Next, there must be a change.

After a week of non-stop eating, the caterpillars finally got tired. I watched as they crawled to the top of the container and became really still. Within a few days, I saw six small cocoons hanging from the top.

I have been doing some research on what happens while the caterpillar is in his cocoon. Many websites used the term “miracle” to describe the process of a caterpillar’s transformation into a beautiful butterfly. While inside the cocoon, the butterfly is literally being transformed from the inside out. Every part of his inner being is rearranging itself and recreating itself into something new. Ladies, Jesus desires to do the same to you. No amount of hard work or better decisions can change us from within. The change only occurs when we finally get tired of “living off” this world and what it offers and then turning our attention to Christ. We have to get still long enough to see the need in our life and desire something more. Jesus tell us, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28)

I want to encourage you, please stop trying to fix yourself or recreate yourself. Stop running from the Lord’s voice and instead run to Him. Please know that you do not have the power within yourself to stop living a life of sin. The power to overcome sin, and therefore be transformed into a new creation in Christ, is the work of God alone. When we stop, confess our sin, repent (turn) from our life sin, and get into the “cocoon” (shelter) of Jesus’ redeeming love, God will literally transform us from the inside out.

Finally, we are transformed into something new.

After a few days in their cocoons, we watched as the once-caterpillars began to emerge as butterflies. It was a fascinating sight! The cocoons would begin to split and then a butterfly would push its way out. This process took about a day, and during that time, I saw some things that pierced my heart.

In order for the butterflies to emerge successfully, they had to change locations. After the caterpillars spun their cocoons, I had to transfer them into the flight cage. There was not enough room inside the original container for the butterflies to emerge. Though it is God alone who transforms our heart and life into something new, many times, we must be willing to change our external situations. After I became a Christian, I had to literally get a new friend set. My former friends were not following Christ, and every time I was around them, I was tempted to go back into my old life. Some of you may be in this stage. In order for you to be “successful” and follow this new path the Lord has placed before you, you have to change locations (either literally or symbolically). Are there friends you need to distance yourself from in order to grow in your relationship with Jesus? Are there places you need to stop going? Are there attitudes and character traits you need to allow the Lord to handle? Please don’t allow Satan to trick you into thinking that you can stay exactly where you are when God is trying to move you so He can transform you into someone different.

The newly emerged butterflies, though transformed, were very weak. For about an hour they just hung beside their cocoon. They rarely moved, and when they did, I saw drops of blood fall from their bodies. Ladies, some of you may be in this stage. You are a new Christian (or a believer who has just returned to the Lord), and you are weak. You have just enough energy to hang onto Jesus. This may be a scary place for you, but know we have all been right where you are. The key to growing stronger is to keep moving in your relationship with Christ. I encourage you to find a more mature woman in Christ and ask her to come alongside you and disciple you. Please don’t think that you can do this life on your own. You and I need people to help us as we navigate this Christian life.

When the new butterflies fell, they got back up and kept going. I watched as one of the cocoons fell of their perch and lay on the ground. I thought it was going to die, but about an hour later, I saw a butterfly had emerged. This creature was amazing! It struggled to walk to the netting, climb up, and then stretch its wings. I was literally overcome with tears as I saw myself in this butterfly. There have been times in my life where I have fallen, but I didn’t stay there. Does this describe you? Know that God has transformed you and will help carry you. No matter how difficult it may be right now, keep going. Don’t stop until you reach the “net” (a safe place) and then allow Jesus and others to help you.

In the next few days, it will be time for us to open the flight cage and release the butterflies. They came in our home dirty and confined to the dirt. However, they will leave our home beautiful and soaring. My prayer is you will allow God to do the same in you.