We are living in a world of change. What we can be most certain of is change. And change is occurring faster and faster each day. Our lives are being transformed with the changes in our world even though we may not be aware of it. The most important question is what are we changing into – are we becoming more dehumanised and changed into human doings or are we becoming human beings who are new creations reflecting the love of God?
In God's creation, we see pictures of the wonder of transformation in the tadpole and the caterpillar. From living in the water, the tadpole is transformed into a frog that lives on land. The caterpillar, on the other hand, undergoes the remarkable transformation from a caterpillar crawling on the ground to a butterfly flitting from flower to flower in the air.
The good news of the gospel is that Jesus Christ came into the world so that we can become new creations – we are to live in this physical world as spiritual beings. The tadpole and caterpillar can help us understand the kinds of transformation that we are going through.
The tadpole changes into a frog by gradually growing limbs and losing its tail. At the same time it develops lungs to enable it to breathe on land and loses the gills that it uses to breathe in the water. The caterpillar, on the other hand, begins its metamorphosis into a butterfly by losing its legs. It goes through the process of becoming a cocoon that looks like death for the caterpillar. But the cocoon is the beginning of the new life for the butterfly.
The metamorphosis of the tadpole into a frog depicts our pursuit of knowledge to accumulate more and more so that we become human doings. As we do so, we lose our passion for the beauty of God’s creation in our physical world. We seek to dominate nature instead of being stewards of the beautiful and wonderful world that God has created.
The transformation of the caterpillar into a butterfly, on the other hand, gives us a beautiful picture of the miraculous change of being born again through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is a process of dying to our old ways so that God can transform us by reforming and purifying our past so that we can live as spiritual human beings in a physical world. When we change and understand that death is not the end but the beginning of a new life, we will begin to see our sufferings and problems from a new perspective.
Suffering and problems become God’s refining fire to purify the gold of love that is in our hearts. When our eyes are filled with tears, we can only see the fire but not our Master’s hand and so our hearts are filled with fears. But our Master is carefully watching for the purified gold in our hearts to reflect the faithful and everlasting love that His beloved Son died on the cross to show us.
Francis Collins, a brilliant scientist who headed the Human Genome Project, a study of DNA which is the code of life, addressed the paradox of why our life is more a vale of tears than a garden of delight. He concurred with C.S. Lewis that part of the problem is our desire to see God as a grandfather in heaven – “a senile benevolence who like to see young people enjoying themselves.” But Jesus came to show us that God is our loving Abba Father who loves us too much to leave us as we are. The challenges, frustrations and suffering in our lives is “God’s megaphone to rouse a dead world.” They are to keep us from being “shallow, self-centred creatures who would ultimately lose all sense of nobility or striving for the betterment of others.”
Sharing from his personal experience of his daughter who was raped while she was a medical student, he realised that we will never fully understand the reasons for our painful experiences. However, he began to dimly see that his daughter’s rape was a challenge to him to try and learn the real meaning of forgiveness in such terribly heart wrenching circumstances. His daughter also saw her experience as one that gave her the opportunity and motivation to counsel and comfort others who have been sexually assaulted.
There will therefore be times when we may feel that God is not answering our prayers. Nothing seems to be happening in our lives and we feel spiritually dead like we are in a cocoon. At such times we need to pray for patience as we wait for the right time to break out of cocoon so that our spiritual wings will be properly formed and strong.
We can bring our tears and fears to the Cross of Christ so that so that He can turn them into the strong and beautiful wings for us to fly above our vale of suffering. The ways of the world will turn us into frogs but God’s ways will change us into butterflies to pollinate the world so that it will be a garden of God’s love. Let us become butterflies and not frogs.