“What in the world do we do now?”
When one season ends before you expect it to, and nothing turned out the way you thought it would…transition is inevitable.
What will our future look like?
Who are we supposed to be?
What do we do now?
It can feel very sad and scary to face transition. Yet, transition is just what is needed to form a butterfly from a caterpillar. When all our plans fail, it could be that God’s plans are better, but we just can’t see that yet.
Signarama had died. Chris was no longer a business owner, but rather a loader at UPS. We weren’t able to buy that house we were hoping for or take that family vacation we had dreamed of or even budget how we would pay our bills from week to week.
Driving to Little Buffalo for a family fun day, we were trying to stay hopeful for the future. I put in a CD of Lance Wallnau, and once again God orchestrated the perfect encouraging word for us. Lance was talking about transition! He pointed out the fact that when a caterpillar is in the cocoon, it dissolves into a mass of cells…essentially a glob of yellow goo.
It is not a caterpillar.
It is not a butterfly.
It may not even know what it will become, yet the imaginal cells are floating around trying to locate matching imaginal cells. When one future antenna cell meets another future antenna cell they begin to form…
You guessed it…an antenna. Slowly it becomes the very specific butterfly that God had imprinted into its cells from the beginning. Yet in the yellow goo stage it looks nothing like that butterfly at all.
AND THAT IS OK!
It is ok to have absolutely no answers or clarity during the yellow goo stage. Trust is more important than clarity. We can trust that God knew what our butterfly would look like when he created us.
“I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust. So I will pray that you will trust God.” – Mother Teresa
It is a funny thing to be 40 and not yet know what you want to be when you grow up! Then again…the possibilities are endless, and rather exciting to consider.
The next time I was snuggling with Annalise and having a quiet time, I asked God a question just for fun. I knew that He didn’t have to answer me; that clarity wasn’t important, but I was curious about what was on His mind. So I asked it.
“Can you give me clarity on the next step?”
“The Lord had done great things for me, and we are filled with joy.
Restore our fortunes oh Lord.
Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.
He who goes out weeping, carrying seeds to sow,
Will return with songs of joy carrying sheaves with him.” Ps 126
What a wonderful picture! Even though we had sown in tears and could see no harvest, WE WILL REAP WITH JOY! When God speaks a word like that to your spirit, faith and the atmosphere of the future surrounds you in the present. You feel certain that it will happen right away.
Or maybe next week!
Undoubtedly the breakthrough is right around the corner!
The very next day, God prepared me for the possibility that it may not happen right away. I was reading the book, The Cross and the Switchblade. I had never read this famous book before, and I was loving it! Right around 1960, David Wilkerson was a small town pastor who had made one little change in his life. He decided to turn off the TV in the evenings and spend that time praying instead. One night during his prayer time, he glanced at a Time magazine he had in his office. On the front cover were the boys in New York City who were going on trial for murder. They were part of a gang and had murdered another boy.
“Go to New York City and help those boys,” he heard God say. He knew nothing about the city or about gangs, but he felt compelled to be obedient.
His church sent him on his mission. As he drove to the city with a friend, they asked God for a verse. The verse they received was the very verse that God had just given me! How exciting! Surely God was going to do amazing things to show these boys His love!
David ended up being able to be in the courtroom for the trial. At the end of the day, afraid that this window of opportunity would close forever, he called out to the judge with a request to speak to the boys. The judge had no patience for David’s outburst, yet David persisted. He ended up being dragged out of the courtroom by security. He left the city and went back to his friends and family in shame and disgrace. What was worse, the media had snapped a picture of him being manhandled by the police and put it in the newspaper. Now everyone could see his colossal mistake. This did not appear to be “reaping with songs of joy.”
David could not stay away from New York City, however. The young people living in the violence and drugs of the gangs were in his heart, and he had to minister to them. He encountered these teens, but he had no way to connect with them, no way to establish rapport and cause them to trust him. When one of the teens recognized him as the man in the paper who had a run in with the police, they suddenly let him in. His ministry had finally begun! The very thing that had plagued his mind as a stupid decision was the very thing that gave him a breakthrough!
He was able to bring many of them to Jesus; getting them off of drugs, discipling them, and training them to disciple others. This ministry has grown into Teen Challenge which has helped thousands of drug addicts find Jesus and freedom! That is certainly “reaping with songs of joy” an abundant harvest! I am sure it has grown into much more than David had ever imagined, but it didn’t happen immediately.
“OK God, messaged received! I can’t imagine the wonderful things you have prepared for us, and I might not even get a glimpse of them for a while. I will trust you,” I prayed.
It was frustrating to stay in the confinement of our cocoon of transition. It felt like a prison, and we knew we weren’t really free after years of striving after that freedom. We weren’t financially free nor had Chris found his dream job. I thought about Joseph when he was in prison. The Bible says that Joseph had God’s presence, His unfailing love, and His favor while he was in prison. Prison wasn’t evidence that God had left him or was displeased with him.
Our prison was serving an important role in our lives. It was keeping us safe while God put our butterflies together. Just imagine if that “caterpillar-turned-yellow-goo creature” was freed of its cocoon too early. It would never become the stunning aerial masterpiece it was meant to be. It would simply be a puddle of yellow slime, formless on the ground.
Some weeks later my mom brought over a bunch of clothes she had purchased for Ashlyn. We sat together on the sofa and “ooooed” and “ahhhhed” over the pretty clothes. After the fourth or fifth shirt embellished with butterflies, I blurted out, “This is the year of the butterfly!”
It was just a trivia comment, but my own words hit me in the chest like a prophecy.
Maybe this would be the year of MY butterfly!
For my birthday a friend gave me a very thoughtful gift, and on the packaging was a butterfly. Another friend created a piece of art with names and favorite scriptures of many friends. Next to my name was a butterfly.
So as I dream of the butterfly that will emerge this year or next year or in 10 years, I will embrace the yellow goo of today…
And trust that God knows exactly what He is doing.