When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things. At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.
-I Corinthians 11-12
As many of you know, I raise butterflies. In the spring and summer, I collect caterpillars, bring them inside in cages that my husband, Jim, built for me and release them after they have emerged as butterflies or moths. I’ve had several varieties, but my main focus are Monarch butterflies.
I’ve blogged before about the transformation…the great struggle to shed its skin and form into a chrysalis. But I was thinking this weekend of when the butterfly emerges. About its vulnerability and frailty. There are so many things that can prevent it from continuing to mature.
When a butterfly emerges, it hangs precariously from the shell that was caring for it during metamorphosis. It takes time for the wings to spread out from their folded-up state. Once they are fully expanded, they must dry before the butterfly can fly away to food. The butterfly gently opens and closes them. At first, it’s barely noticeable as the butterfly gains it’s strength. After a while, they are able to open and close fully.
This weekend, while on an Oblate Novice retreat at St. Meinrad, I thought of how our spiritual lives are like the process a butterfly goes through. As children, our faith depends largely on our parents and those in the church or school to feed us and help us grow. In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, in chapter 3, he writes, “Brothers, I could not talk to you as spiritual people, but as fleshly people, as infants in Christ. I fed you milk, not solid food, because you were unable to take it.”
When the monarch matures, it requires different food than when it was a caterpillar. The monarch lays its eggs exclusively on milkweed. But, as a butterfly, it needs nectar to nourish itself. I like to give caterpillars to children at my parish, so they can care for them and have the joy of releasing them when they emerge. This past summer was particularly rainy, and I told one little girl that if the butterfly emerged on a rainy day, she needed to have some fresh flowers in the cage for it to eat on and wait to release it until the rain had stopped. A few days later, the girl called me upset because the butterfly had died. I asked her if she had put flowers in the cage and she told me no; she thought that the leaves of the milkweed would be enough.
As we grow as Christians, we must change our diets also. We can not expect to mature on the same “milk” we had before. Not only do we need to feed ourselves spiritually, with God’s word, but we need to remove those things that keep us from doing so.
Albert Einstein said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If we want to grow and mature, the ball is in our court.
I’m going to leave you with the words of Dr. Tony Evans, a favorite author of mine and with a quote by Oswald Chambers. God bless!
“According to Hebrews 5:14, we know we are mature enough to partake of solid food when we can take the truth of God’s Word (doctrine) and use it skillfully to live our lives and make our decisions from a biblical perspective. When you and I can filter everything that comes our way through the grid of God’s Word and discern His will and desire for us, and then obey what God tells us, we are evidencing a deeper, more mature hunger for the food of spiritual growth. Do you want to move beyond the milk of the Christian life? Are you ready to enjoy the meat of God’s Holy Word so that you will continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ?”
Spiritual maturity is not reached by the passing of the years,
but by obedience to the will of God. Some people mature into an
understanding of God’s will more quickly than others because
they obey more readily; they more readily sacrifice the life of nature
to the will of God.
– Oswald Chambers