This month Beverly Richardson shares what transformation has meant in her life. She has served overseas, both short and long term. Beverly earned her PhD. so she can effectively help cross cultural workers. She currently lives and works in Asia.
Today I was thumbing through old journals, some that go back as far as 16 years. I think it does one good to go back and see just how far we’ve come, or how we’ve gotten stuck in the same place for years. For me, it is confirmation of the transformation that God has brought in my life over the years.
Transformation is defined as a progressive altering of every characteristic. The ultimate goal is to be “molded into the image of His Son and share inwardly His likeness.” (Romans 8:29 Amplified Bible) How does that happen? It takes time.
During a time when I was seeking some much needed emotional healing, God gave me a picture. I was in a cocoon and trying so hard to get out. My heart’s cry was to be that beautiful butterfly, but instead I felt myself pushing and fighting to come out of that cocoon.
I decided to find out more about butterflies and came across the story that many have heard. The story tells of a man watching a butterfly as it struggled to get out of the cocoon. When it looked like it couldn’t do anything else, the man decided to help it by cutting open the cocoon. What emerged was a swollen body with small shriveled wings. The man expected the butterfly’s wings to enlarge and gain strength, but it never happened. The butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around, never able to fly.
God had a purpose in creating the cocoon. The struggling required to get through the tiny opening was God’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly and into its wings. Only then would it be ready for flight as it burst forth from the cocoon.
The struggles that we go through are designed for our benefit – to strengthen us; to cause the fluid, or the water of the Word, to go through us to make us stronger. Any other way, though seemingly faster, will only cripple us and make us less effective. If we get out of our cocoon too soon, we will not develop the strength to fly as God designed us to do.
I have often wanted transformation to come quickly in order to move me out of the pain faster. But that word transformation means a progressive altering of every characteristic. The quick work I desired would not build in me the strength that God wanted, and it would not allow me to fly free like God wanted either.
Our lives are just like the butterfly struggling in the cocoon. We can choose to ask someone to come and cut the cocoon open so we can emerge faster and be ineffective. Or, we can allow the painful struggles to strengthen us so that once outside, we will fly as God intended us to. Believe me, it’s worth the wait.
A Word from Diane
A family who had served in their adopted country for 15 years was forced to flee for their lives, not from mobs but from angry church members. They left with no money and only what they could carry in suitcases. A friend donated air miles to get them out of that dangerous place, carrying only what would fit in their suitcases. They felt like they had lost everything, that those years of service had been wasted, and that they had no hope for their future.
But God is good to his children. He placed them in a cocoon for a time of growth, healing, and transformation. People they didn’t even know sent money to help them. A group of caring people surrounded them, each sharing their special expertise. They were counseled, pastored, upheld in prayer, and befriended. Food, housing and transportation were provided. Most of all there was time for God’s transforming power to work in their lives. Like wounded soldiers in triage, they were stabilized so they could continue service.
They have now returned to their home country. Their journey is far from over. They face a long road with more struggles and trials ahead. But they are not crying out for the cocoon to be cut. They are allowing God’s Word to be worked in and through their lives. They have chosen to be transformed. We know these people. We know they will be stronger and more fruitful in the future. Their end will be far different from the beginning and so much better than those angry people in their field of service could imagine.
Many scriptures sustained this family through this unexpected stage in their journey, this is one of them:
“But I trust the LORD God to save me, and I will wait for him to answer my prayer. My enemies, don’t be glad because of my troubles! I may have fallen, but I will get up; I may be sitting in the dark, but the LORD is my light.” -Micah 7:7-8 CEV