Monday, July 1, 2013

What a Cup of Caterpillars taught me about God's timing and plans

Every year my preschool class learns about the life cycle of butterflies.  Several craft projects coupled with observing real caterpillars teach this lesson.  It is amazing to see the metamorphosis that occurs as these crawling creatures grow and change until they become beautiful flying butterflies with painted wings.  It never ceases to amaze me.. this transformation... it never gets old.   The same cycle happens each year ... it is predictable yet nonetheless magnificent... that is until this year.

Our caterpillar cup arrived in the Spring via a kind FedEx man.  He delivered three cups of caterpillars and food.  Each classroom had its own cup and all we had to do was handle the cup carefully and observe God's handiwork.   So we watched and waited.  All three cups had caterpillars eating and growing fat.  That is their job; to store up food and energy until they go into their
chrysalides (I always thought it was their cocoons... preschool has taught me many new things).  Two of the classroom had caterpillars that grew and wrapped themselves in their chrysalides to await emergence as butterflies.  And then there were my classes caterpillars... after seeming to grow, they stopped.  Not only that but they shriveled up and died.  No life... black... thin... dead.

In all my years of teaching, this had never happened.  Something had gone very wrong.   Instead of a joyful release of butterflies, we had a disappointing cup of trash.  We told the children that sometimes in life and nature, things like this happen.  Then, we contacted the company who said they would refund our money or send up a new cup of caterpillars.  We opted to try again.  By now, the end of the school year rapidly approached.  The chances of these caterpillars going through their lifecycle and fluttering about before school got out were slim to none.  But we had hope...  and so we watched... and waited.   There was nothing else we could do.  It was out of our hands. 

The days marched on.   The caterpillars ate until their hearts content.  The grew happily plump.  They nestled into their chrysalides.  We waited.   The second to last week of school arrived ... and still no butterflies.  It seemed like this would be the first year there would be no butterflies for us...  I went home on Friday feeling disappointed and sad for the kids.  There is something so amazing seeing something only God could do and it seemed as if this class was going to miss it.  I had a little hope and still prayed about it... but to be honest, things did not look very promising.

Monday came and when I went over to our butterfly net... lo and behold, there was one butterfly.  I was so thankful and delighted.  We would have a butterfly to release.   I was grateful... And then God did what never ceases to amazing me...  He gave far more than I could ask or imagine...

I came into school early on the last day to finish up a few last minute details.   We had a busy day planned (including releasing our butterfly).  I went and check out our net.  Much to my surprise, not only did we have that one butterfly... but all of butterflies had hatched.   And, oh what joy there was for us as a class... after waiting, being disappointed, trying again, and waiting some more - we had a net full of butterflies!    And, our joy was magnified by our wait... how exciting it was to release all of those butterflies on the last day of school!

So here is what I learned about God through these butterflies...
1- God's timing is never early... never late... never my timing... but always on time
2-  New life comes from dying ... dying to self
3-  He gives beauty for ashes  (Isaiah 61:3)
4-  He does "far immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine" (Ephesians 3:20)
5- We are new creations in Christ just like those butterflies... beautifully changed by Him!
Praying you have many blessings and much joy!

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