When the years roll from one to the next we often consider the past and wonder about tomorrow. It’s the healthy activity of closing one book and beginning another. Taking time to remember the good, retire the bad, and hope for a better tomorrow. It is in that vein of hoping for a better tomorrow that I offer this challenge – fly!
Following Jesus and walking in the Spirit is a journey of transformation. When we first accept Christ by admitting our sins, trusting in His blood for forgiveness, and handing Him control of our lives we are instantly changed. Paul says, “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:3, NASB95) But we must also recognize that while we are changed we are also changing (Romans 12:2).
Before choosing Jesus, we were all like earthbound hungry caterpillars chewing our way through life. Nothing matters to the caterpillar except their own appetites and desires. And, if we’re honest with ourselves, we tend towards that same attitude. I want what I want and I’ll grump, complain, control, manipulate, yell, stomp and pound and cry until I get it. Even to the point of being consumed by my own hunger. That’s the life! Not!
Paul described something similar in the letter to the Galatians. “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19–21, NASB95)
But caterpillars don’t stay earthbound. They, like the heart that belongs to Christ, undergo an amazing transformation from caterpillar to butterfly. Caterpillars change from earthbound to fluttering on the wind. We read the results of transformation in two texts from Paul. Galatians 5:22 describes the fruit of the Spirit of love, joy, peace…
In Colossians Paul likens this transformation to changing clothes,“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” (Colossians 3:12–14, NASB95)
Here’s what I want to underscore for the coming year and beyond. We, as Christians are often stuck in the chrysalis, (that cocoon-like place of transformation). The safety and separation of the chrysalis from our earthbound life comforts us. We support this cocooned life with verses such as, “Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,” says the Lord. “AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; And I will welcome you.” (2 Corinthians 6:17, NASB95) Ignoring that in these verses Paul is warning the wayward Corinthians about returning to caterpillar-like activities.
We need the chrysalis moments, but we are called, purposed, and created in Christ to fly on the winds of the Spirit. It’s frightening to leave that place of safety and comfort to colorfully engage the world again. Our flight pattern may seem directionless as we flutter on the breeze. We may not know ourselves where we will land or what flower we’ll sip from. It doesn’t matter since our minds are set on the things above and not on the things of earth (Colossians 3:2)
So, that is my encouragement for next year. Fly! Leave the chrysalis. Trust the Holy Spirit to direct your flight. Engage the world again, not as a caterpillar, but as a butterfly reflecting the beauty of God. It may mean landing in some dark rough places to creatively show the true colors God painted on our wings. Christ-followers have shouted from the safety of the chrysalis long enough, it is time to fly!