One of my friends particularly hates caterpillars; another friend encourages her to see beyond the caterpillar and love it because it transforms into a beautiful butterfly. What a wonderful transition that is. It seems so easy for a caterpillar: it eats as much as it wants, then rests inside a warm cocoon and, after a few days, emerges, transformed into a spectacular butterfly. Why can’t our changes be that simple?
I have found transitions to be more akin to climbing mountain ranges--some small hills, but some scary and challenging sheer rock faces. I love hiking and, as a young woman, spent time at our grand Drakensberg mountains. Hiking those mountains requires tenacity and perseverance. My experience was that the first peak would be relatively easy but, as we summited that peak, behold another higher one became visible--steeper and more challenging. Up and up we would climb and, whereas the effort was always worth the view and exhilaration of reaching the top, it did require hard work and effort.
My experience of life as a Christian is in many ways like my mountain climbing. Our goal is Christlikeness. This is a lifelong process, and not like the caterpillar’s change where there’s self-indulgence, everything is easy and the transformation just happens. God uses different processes to transform us. He bypasses our strengths, abilities, talents so that we can know that He is at work in us. The reward is a growing, intimate relationship with a loving Father who guides every step, is always with us and has our very best interests at heart.
I am reminded of this verse written by Paul to the church in Philippi: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil 1:6) The phrase, “he who began a good work in you”, reminds us that God initiated our salvation. His love convicts us of our human need, our human condition, and our need for salvation. This is the greatest transition--from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. Then our life becomes one of change from one degree of glory to the next. The verse tells me that, at any stage of my life on earth, I can be confident that God is not finished with me. There is always good work to be executed in me. Work is an act; it results in change; it results in me being different today from what I was yesterday. This work will be completed one day; it has an end--and Paul says in this verse that he is sure that it will happen. He is looking forward, with great expectation and thanksgiving, for the saints at Philippi, and for you and me today.
I am in transition--a painful and difficult transition that I did not expect to experience. And I have been reminding myself of some truths: C Capabilities.
Do not rely on your capabilities, your self-defined ways. Submit to God. Humble yourself before Him. Understand that the power to change is in the hands of the One whose power and goal it is to change you. H Hate sin. You cannot ignore sin. You cannot curl up in a cocoon and hope it will go away. You cannot ignore sin because you are covered by grace. Choose to position yourself for war--a war to put sin to death. A Advance.
Far in front of you is a faithful God who goes before you and prepares the climb in ways you cannot imagine. He goes before you and provides a backpack filled with nourishing goodies, a beautiful waterfall to refresh you, a green pasture in which to rest. N No time is wasted when you persistently follow the Holy Spirit and His leading. The time before transition is good, the time of the transition is good, and it will be good going onward. Often, when a transition period is painful, you try to speed it along; you try and get it over as quickly as possible--instead of finding God in each moment. G Gaze.
Always look to Jesus. Gaze into His face. Move close to Him so that you can “see” Him. He is the one who underwent the great transition from His abode in heaven to life on this earth, fully God and yet fully human. He suffered for you and now He suffers with you. He understands your pain in the transition and He is always with you. E Expectant.
Be convinced that God is doing a good work in you, that nothing you experience is wasted, that He can work all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Rom 8:28). Be expectant of the beautiful butterfly that He is working out in you.
A final encouragement from me is always to be grateful. Find something every day to thank our Lord for, even in the toughest transition. One day we will see Him face-to-face; we will undergo our final transition and live with Him forever.