Once upon a time, there lived lots and lots of caterpillars. There are caterpillars everywhere. Whole fields full of them. You are a caterpillar. I am a caterpillar. All of God's children are caterpillars.
Okay. I know. Things just got really weird. I taught little kids for a long time. Stories come easily to me. Bear with me.
One day you (who are a caterpillar, remember?) find yourself hanging upside down from a twig. The world is spinning around you. At least that's how it feels. It's really not the world that is spinning, but it is just what's happening to you. But it's frightening.
You are alone. You can't even see the other caterpillars any more. You feel weak and vulnerable. You can't crawl. You can't eat. It is dark. You feel broken and scared. How unfair!
When the spinning stops, you find yourself encased within a silky cocoon. Then it dawns on you that God needs you to be here with Him, alone. He has things to teach you that you cannot learn any other way.
And you are safe. The spinning was the creation of the cocoon. You're safe in the shelter of God. You learn His presence in a way that you've never known before. And then there is great peace.
So, you submit. Change doesn't happen without submission. That's why so few people see the change that they need. Why they never become what God wants. They refuse to submit. Giving up control is difficult. Allowing yourself to be empty. Submitting to God.
But you do. And God works in you. He has His way. You can't see the change that is taking place there in that cocoon. But when you have been radically transformed, you emerge as a butterfly. In God's time. God's doings.
But now the other caterpillars look at you strangely. They think you are weird. They can see what you are just beginning to learn.
God has given you wings!
People have a tendency to accept that to which they are familiar. If they look in the mirror and see a caterpillar, then they feel better if you are a caterpillar, too. They need for you to look like them. And talk like them. And think like them.
If you do not, it is unsettling for them. And they will think of you that you are quite strange. They might even tell you so. They need to think that. Let them.
They may try to pull you back. Back into being a caterpillar. But you can't. Not even if you wanted to. And you don't want to anyway.
John 15:19 - "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you."
Lesson number six, and maybe seven and eight: Do not live life trying to fulfill the expectations of others. Allow God to make you what He wants you to be, even if it makes others uncomfortable or unhappy. And if God gives you wings, don't be afraid to use them!
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