The chrysalis is a mysterious and magical place where a creature that is in one form goes in and one radically changed comes out. The transformation is unlike any on earth, any that is except the one you and I must go through. More on that later.
The interesting thing is, the caterpillar willingly submits to this total rearrangement of everything caterpillar to become everything butterfly. In reality, the caterpillar probably has no idea of what it will become.
If you put a Monarch caterpillar next to a Monarch butterfly, you would never imagine they are two stages of the same insect. They definitely are, but the result is so extremely dissimilar.
This change we call metamorphosis results in a wild departure from what has been the norm. It is a revolutionary process that happens over a period of weeks.
When the caterpillar’s time for fueling up is over, it attaches itself to a twig to begin. In order for this larva to be transformed into an adult, it needs a protected environment, able to be controlled from all outside influences. Thus a hardened outer layer forms completing the chrysalis.
It is in this sheltered cocoon-like structure that the magic of transformation occurs.
“During pupation, a process controlled by hormones, larval structures break down and adult structures form; wings appear for the first time,”1 according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. The caterpillar undergoes a complete metamorphosis.
The chrysalis of the Monarch butterfly turns clear and the colors of the adult can be observed before it emerges. What can’t be observed, though, is how it happens. That is totally up to the design embedded in the Monarch by God Himself.
“Inside the caterpillar are several sets of little cells that are in different parts of the body and they’re called imaginal disks. These are really like little groups of embryonic cells,”2 explains Dr. Lincoln Brower, Distinguished Service Professor of Zoology Emeritus at the University of Florida and Research Professor of Biology at Sweet Briar College.
These cells begin growing and the disks then will become things like wings, legs, antennae and organs of the butterfly. The chrysalis contains a “bag of rich fluid media”3 or fuel for the cells’ growth. These cells are resident in the caterpillar waiting until they are needed.
Everything that resembles the caterpillar dies except that which is needed to become the new creature. If you’re on track with me you have to be thinking of the Biblical example of this when the apostle Paul said, “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.”4
The chrysalis is symbolic of death to the old and rebirth to the new. This kind of death is not an eradication of all things Monarch, though. It is more a reassembling and reordering into a creature that has an entirely different perspective that the caterpillar crawling on a leaf with the sole purpose of eating as much as possible.
By definition, the chrysalis is a “sheltered state or stage of being or growth” and metamorphosis is “a change of physical form, structure or substance especially by supernatural means.”5
Here’s my definition. A chrysalis is place where God shelters me for a time so a physical change can take place, one He has orchestrated and designed for me from the beginning of time.
Paul says it this way, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”6 This radical change happens when we accept Christ as our savior.
For us as human beings, though, there can be and should be other ongoing equally extreme transformations. As we get closer and closer to God through His Holy Spirit, we should begin to reflect His glory. We are then transformed into His image from glory to glory7 or as we understand more and more of Him.
If we have things in us that are not reflecting His glory, those things need to die. We need to go into God’s chrysalis to emerge a totally different creation. All that we have been holding on to must be disassembled in a digestive soup that will be the building blocks of something God already designed.
In other words to fly, we first have to enter the chrysalis and submit to the process of total rearrangement of all we are. Even though it is a revolutionary process, we have no cause for fear. God tells us in the shadow of His wings we will find refuge.8 He is our fortress.9 We need only trust in Him completely.
“He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.”10
What happens in God’s chrysalis is His process, but we initiate it by our surrender.
We come out radically changed and completely renewed if we submit entirely to the process.
In metamorphosis everything we think we have to have to exist is melted down. Only what God deems necessary remains.
Our transformed state was always in our design, a part of our very cells, predicted before we were born.11 This total rewiring of our makeup does not take God by surprise. His only intrigue is how long it took us to start this process that results in our freedom.
He knew the stunning creation that has the capability of soaring to heights beyond anything we ever imagined was what we really wanted all along. It just took us a while to submit to such a radical and magnificent change.
What in you must die so something beautiful can emerge?
1 “Pupa.” Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 21 May 2014.
2 “Journey North: Monarch Butterfly.” Journey North: Monarch Butterfly. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 May 2014.
4 Galatians 2:20 NLT
5 “Metamorphosis.” Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 21 May 2014.
6 2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV
7 2 Corinthians 3;17-18 NKJV
8 Psalm 57:1 NKJV
9 Psalm 91:2 NKJV
10 Psalm 91:4 NKJV
11 Psalm 139:16 NLT
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