Last summer, my sons and I got to watch a chubby green caterpillar go through metamorphosis. For weeks it hung motionless in its chrysalis attached to a twig. As time passed and the chrysalis appeared more desiccated every day, we felt sure the process had somehow been arrested and the poor thing had most likely died. We imagined it was probably now just a formless puddle of goo inside its outer husk. Still, we pushed past our doubts and waited longer than any of us thought reasonable.
To our great delight, our patience was eventually rewarded when the chrysalis suddenly began to twitch! Over a few days the twitching grew more energetic until the twitching was more like jumping! The new life within that had been in process for all those weeks was most certainly still present and clearly about to make its debut. The anticipation nearly killed us! Finally, after staring in expectation at the little bug hut for hours at a time, a beautiful lime green Luna Moth slowly emerged, wrinkled and crinkled, from its chrysalis. No longer a bumbling earth-bound struggler, it was unrecognizable now as the same creature we had watched for so long. Wings unfolded, vibrant and green, it was stunning and more beautiful than we had imagined.
II Corinthians 4:16-18:
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
Recently as my body, reticent to recover from the flu, kept me awake and felt very much like it was wasting away, this verse kept stubbornly presenting itself to my otherwise weary mind. As I cogitated on it, I couldn’t get the image of our beautiful moth out of my head.
When we are first born, our cries broadcast loudly that we are alive. While by nature we are born into death, we are indeed living image bearers of God. And yet, until we are born of the Spirit our whole beings—our inner and outer beings—are in sorrowful sync. We are both dead in our transgressions and physically on a deathward trajectory.
When we are regenerated by the Holy Spirit and let out that first cry of faith, it is the inner being that is reborn and henceforth in a constant state of renewal, even as our outer being remains subject to death and temporal afflictions. While death is indeed at work in our bodies and we see its evidence daily, new life that outlasts these fragile vessels is being churned up, renewed daily by the only sustenance fit for heavenly beings; Jesus himself, the bread of heaven, the eternal one, the living God who laid his own mortal body down that ours might be raised up. Inside the dying chrysalis of our flesh there is a beautiful mystery being made, a new creation that will one day gloriously unfold its wings.
Our bodies are more than mere husks or food processors. They are good and holy creations marred by the fall of mankind. We know that bodies in and of themselves are good because God said, “It is good,” when he first created them, but also because Christ took on a real human body; one that ached, was subject to circadian rhythms, hunger and thirst, intense stress, and an agonizing death. Even now he sits in heaven at the right hand of God in a body—a glorified resurrection body— but it’s a real flesh and blood body! Friends, he ate with his disciples after his resurrection. His wounds were touchable!
This is a concept we may have a very difficult time wrapping our minds around because we are so caught up in what we can see and touch now. But these mortal bodies we are in, until the resurrection makes them glorious new creation bodies, are wasting away like the caterpillar’s crusty chrysalis. And even as they give way to decay, these bodies are where God has seen fit to make something unspeakably beautiful, something fit for eternity. One day our outer and inner beings will be perfectly in sync again. Only this time we will be fully alive!
Our new creation doesn’t emerge fully metamorphosed from the chrysalis until Resurrection Day. Maybe you are too often kept awake at night with fears and failures. Perhaps you’re struggling through a battle of unbelief that makes you wonder at times if your spirit is even alive inside. You may be weary of your outer being malfunctioning or growing old. Take heart, friend! You’re still in your chrysalis. You are not yet what you will be. Look with hope toward the day when all things are made new, your resurrection day! Only then will your wings unfold.
About the Author:
Nan Doud is a professional photographer as well as a member of the human resources team for a community-based agency that provides support services to people with disabilities in Central New Jersey. The wife of PCA minister and classical school teacher, Shawn Doud, and mother to four teenage boys, she enjoys writing poetry and meditations on the intersection of life and grace as expressed in the Old and New Testaments. She loves articulating and dialoguing with people on how the gospel touches both our cultural and individual struggles.