Pillars and Caterpillars
Last Sunday during our All Age “Big Story” service, I was telling the story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, the enduring children’s story by Eric Carle.
In the story, the caterpillar needs three things in order for it to become a butterfly:
1) Food – nourishment for the body to help it grow
2) A cocoon – a safe place to gradually be transformed
As I explained, our own spiritual transformation in which we develop into the people God made us to be and fulfil His will for our lives, may also depend on three similar things:
1) Food for the soul - spiritual nourishment - as is found most abundantly in the bible but also in quiet times of prayer and being alone with God, in listening out for God and in hearing from mature Christian friends and even in seeing and recognising God’s fingerprints in the world around us – the beauty of nature, the wonders of the night sky, even in poetry and song. How are you doing on this? What are you feeding your soul on and when?
2) A safe place to grow – a local church, like EBC, in which we can recover and recharge from the trials of the world at large, find comfort and joy in each other as we worship God together, pray together and become more like Jesus together! Do you see church this way? Are you making it a priority, given how essential it is to growth?
3) Time. Sometimes, God intervenes and changes someone in a dramatic fashion – as with the experience of Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus when Jesus spoke directly to him and changed him utterly. More often, the change is gradual, and required time for the spiritual nourishment and consequent growth to happen. If you don’t feel you’re becoming the person God made you to be, don’t give up but persevere! Consider points one and two above – what can you do differently?
I think there are great lessons in this metaphor of transformation for us. We should never underestimate the importance of the right diet of food for the soul and time spent growing together in the context of church (which was after all, Jesus's idea and described in the bible as his body and his bride). And our spiritual transformation is one area where Winston Churchill’s famous words are definitely true: “Never, never, never give up.”
When I was inducted as Team Leader back in September of last year, I received a lovely card from one of our previous Senior Ministers, Dane Baker. Dane was our Minister when I first came to EBC and always encouraged me. I have kept the card, which has pictures of butterflies on the front and inside it says this:
When you look at the church you may see some people as the “pillars of the church” and other people as the caterpillars of the church. Watch over those caterpillars – it is marvellous to see them being transformed into Jesus’ likeness “with ever-increasing glory” (see 2 Corinthians 3 v18). May God increasingly bless your ministry.
Isn’t that a wonderful encouragement? I hope you’ll join me in praying for the growth of each of us in the EBC family. Let’s do all we can to pray for, encourage and help each other in the process of transformation as we follow Jesus and seek to become more like Him.
See you on Sunday!