“But thanks be to God, Who in Christ always leads us in triumph [as trophies of Christ’s victory] and through us spreads and makes evident the fragrance of the knowledge of God everywhere”
2 Corinthians 2:14-17 Amplified Bible
I went to a retreat a few weeks ago and it was so nice to do just that, retreat and take a break. Though the weekend was packed full, God still had time to teach me some new lessons. Funny enough some of these lessons, He has been working on with me for quite some time now.
Last summer, I had what it seemed an army of butterflies following me. I prayed all summer, asking God what it meant and why I would see them at just the right time, which was usually when I would be praying or speaking of Him. I thought maybe because I suffered with severe anxiety most of my life that the butterfly now represents the new me.
In my anxiety, I was always completely stressed and unsettled. I seemed to constantly rush around with no time to just stop and breathe. My life reminded me of that of a fly before my spiritual metamorphosis. I knew that after I put my faith in God that I had become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) like that of a butterfly. I don’t think that I was necessarily wrong, however, at the retreat I realized that it was just a piece of the puzzle that I didn’t realize that I had been putting together.
As I am sure that you know, butterflies start out as caterpillars. They are born of an egg on the underside of a leaf. Once born, they begin to do exactly what I love to do, eat. They eat the egg they came from and leaf that held it. They live this way for a few weeks until they form a cocoon called a chrysalis. While in this chrysalis, they undergo some serious changes resulting in complete transformation. Why do they begin this chrysalis process? How do they know when it is time? I am guessing that they just know that they know.
Since my life was for the most part ruled by anxiety and fear. The freedom that I live in now is truly a transformation. As a child, my fear would create situations in my mind that would always end in death. I knew that like every other person on this planet, I would die. The problem is that I would wake up each day sure that this would be the day it would happen. To credit my mind, it was pretty creative each time I would decide how it would happen. Any situation could completely take my mind where I dreaded it would go. I can remember the fear that would grip me during tornado drills, only to be kicked back up again when the wind would pick up. I used to sit and look out my window after school just waiting for the cloud from the nuclear bomb that I feared. If I sat in a car, I would picture the accident in detail that I was sure was going to happen.
There was a two year period in my life that my anxiety seemed to disappear. This was the time in my life that I lived solely for myself, not in fear but in anger and resentment. I believed the lie that there was nothing further in life. I went against everything that I believed in and lived just for me. Funny how the fear was so eager to walk away for that time.
After that time in my life, I met a wonderful man. We married and started a family. When I gave birth to my daughter, I gave birth to full blown anxiety. I would sit up every night with my husband and my baby. Knowing that I was beginning the start of a heart attack, I would cry and ask my husband to check my heart rate just one more time. I was so absorbed by this fear that I ended up in the emergency room on an EKG machine during an anxiety attack. One day, my husband asked me if I believed in God. He asked me why I trust him so much to tell me if I was going to be ok but I wasn’t putting my trust in God.
It was about eight years later that I began to learn more about God and that freedom was a gift available to me. The next four years have been the most difficult yet the most wonderful ones at the same time. Today, I live free from the chains of fear and anxiety. Sure it tries to creep in every now and then when I am tired, sick, or stressed, but even though it tries, I am free indeed. I have learned so much these past four years that I would have a hard time telling you all of it, but let me sum it up by saying my fear has been traded in for faith and my death has been traded for life.
Ok, back to the caterpillar. When it forms its chrysalis; it hangs for a minimum of two weeks. The time spent is meant for many things and each second serves a purpose. If it gets out of the chrysalis a moment too soon, it will be unable to fly as a butterfly. Once the transformation is complete the chrysalis will be translucent or transparent, out from the chrysalis emerges a butterfly. It is nothing like the creature it was before the time spent alone.
At the retreat, God showed me that He has brought me so far. He has given me so many gifts and blessed me in so many ways. He has taught me how to forgive, how to love, and how to live in freedom. One of the speakers in particular made me think about her testimony or her story. She had a very sad story that ended up in victory. As she told her story, I realized that she was doing something that I wasn’t. She was living in victory. She told her past and how God has changed her with a joy that intrigued me. I realized at that moment, that I had been living within the walls of my testimony.
I pictured myself in a warehouse following Jesus; my hands were full of the gifts that I have received over the last four years. Now I don’t mean physical gifts, but emotional and spiritual ones. Each gift has a label that exemplifies that gift, such as love, forgiveness, etc. But then I see Him trying to hand me something else and I can’t take it from Him because I haven’t put anything down. My hands are too full to accept anything else.
You see God can do an amazing change in our lives if we let Him. But that’s the catch, we need to let Him. We are our own worst enemies. How many times do we see change on the horizon yet squawk at it thinking, I don’t deserve that or this is just were I am supposed to be. We just need to submit to Him and allow the chrysalis of change to happen.
I picture the butterfly that has just emerged from the chrysalis noticing his wings for the first time. I picture him flapping them and preparing to take off toward a brand new life that he has no idea how to live. What I don’t see is that butterfly picking up his chrysalis and dragging it around with him showing others how amazing the transformation is. He leaves that job to God and allows his new stained glass looking wings do the talking. So I too will thank my Father for the testimony that I have in living life outside the prison cell of fear and anxiety and I will live in victory over it. In doing this, my hands will be freed up to receive more that I know my God wants to give me, and I will be able to spread my new wings to fly.