Life

The Chrysalis

If human life is like the metamorphosis of a butterfly, we are now being molded in the chrysalis. Using this imagery from Pastor Yuan Zhiming, the pain behind the unending struggle towards maturity is now explained. When we were young, we lived in the innocent bliss of the caterpillar. We crawled on the ground, ate to our hearts’ content, and had but vague dreams of the future.

Then we had to mature, and we wanted to grow up, because we yearned to attain some unknown but beautiful future. But for now, we remain in the chrysalis, no longer children but not yet wise adults — and still at every moment we believe ourselves to be as competent as our elders. Suddenly, when we realize we cannot handle everything ourselves, we discover to our chagrin that we have been lying to ourselves all this time. And a pain rips our heart because we no longer know who we are.

We are still in the chrysalis, for we know that it is integral to growing up. Yet no one warned us about how difficult the transition from caterpillar to butterfly, from child to adult, would be.

No one considers why or how the caterpillar becomes a butterfly. The process is a chemical mystery involving semi-digestion of the body and rearrangement of physical chemistry. How painful the change must be for the caterpillar in order for it to morph its wormlike mass into the slender figure and delicate wings of a butterfly. Like the caterpillar in the chrysalis we struggle as we previously only knew the world in two dimensions and are now overwhelmed with a three-dimensional, so much richer yet complex world.

The metamorphosis will come to an end. As the chrysalis clears, we see more of the grand world outside. We are too young now to take part fully, but we can learn and we will adapt. One day all our pain will be worth it.

In this life we will never become fully mature, because on earth we are forever ignorant human beings. But as we seek maturity and the likeness of Christ, one day we will emerge from the chrysalis in a splendid world called heaven.

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

   “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, 
   and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 
 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, 
   and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. 

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Hebrews 12:4-7, 11

Listen to Pastor Yuan Zhiming’s messages here.

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