Last week, I was so blessed to hear many wonderful speakers at a Children's Ministry conference in San Diego. One in particular, Andy Andrews, I'd heard years before at another function, and had been so completely blessed by his message and ministry.
As he spoke to the crowd last week, he reminded us of so many of God's truths. Several things that he said.. I've not been able to get out of my brain since. He spoke at length about the notion of the "butterfly effect". First introduced by Edward Lorenz, a scientist at MIT in the 1960's, the theory proposes that a small change at one place in a complex system can have large effects elsewhere. The popular notion is that "a butterfly flapping its wings in South America can affect the weather in Central Park."
Andy Andrews was reminding us that our actions have consequences. Consequences more far-reaching than most of us ever think about. "There are generations yet to be born whose lives will be shaped and shifted by what you are going to do tomorrow," he told us. So true, that the smallest of actions.. the choices we make.. can have such far-reaching implications.
Though that is certainly true, I feel that God is also speaking to my heart, that He wants me to learn a deeper lesson involving the butterfly.
In my quiet time this morning, I think I finally realized what He was telling me.
Most of us learned, way back in grade school, the life cycle of the butterfly. The gorgeous creations we see flitting through the air, never started out that way in life. They were once caterpillars, until they underwent that glorious transformation. Many times, I have heard the analogy of the butterfly applied to our spiritual lives, as the transformation from the old, sinful ways to a new life in Christ happens.
The message God was speaking to my heart this morning, though, was more of a message about patience.. about waiting. The time God was speaking to me about is that "time in the cocoon". In the dark. When we can't see Him. When we can't feel Him there. When we aren't sure what is next in our lives. The mysterious "in the meantime".
One of my devotionals said it best, "The things He teaches us in the dark, we would never know about otherwise." There is a reason why we must wait on God's timing in our lives. Sometimes many reasons, with many far-reaching implications.
God is using that time to prepare us for what is to come. Only He knows what we are going to face down the road in our lives. Only He knows the people that we are going to come in contact with, and exactly what they will need to hear or learn from us. Usually lessons and truths that we ourselves have learned, while waiting. In the dark.
But to learn those lessons, we must listen. We must listen for all we are worth, for His still, small voice. Sometimes, I am sorry to admit, my prayer time consists of a lot of talking and not much listening on my part. Another of my devotionals hit that point home, when I read "Ever met someone for lunch and the other person talked for an hour and never let you get a word in?" They were referring to the one-sided conversations we sometimes have with God. Either we don't know how to hear His voice, or we don't realize that He still does speak today...
I read further, "Think about how you pray. Do you spend time listening to God? Are you throwing a hurried wish list heavenward, or are you being quiet to listen to God's Spirit?".
I was led to Hebrews 13:5 and these words caught my eye, "...because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'" Not just the verse, but I had written a sermon note in the margin that there are actually FIVE "nevers" in the original Greek. "Never, never, never, never, never will I leave you; never, never, never, never, never will I forsake you." I think He really wanted to reassure us.. what do you think?!
God doesn't promise us a pain-free life. He does promise us that He will always be with us. Even when it feels like you are alone. In the dark. In your own little world.. your own little cocoon. This is not all there is. There is a reason God has placed you where you are.
If the walls of your cocoon were to split open too soon, you would never be strong enough to handle what is to come... you would never be strong enough to fly...
"You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." Ephesians 4:22-24