Growth · Weekend Word Devotions

Weekend Word: Transformation is Messy

[Today’s devotion on transformation is part of the Weekend Word devotional series. Come back every Saturday for more insights from God’s Word to jumpstart your week.]

Today’s Scripture: “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:3, NIV).

Whether through science class as a child, fascination as an adult, or a project with your own children, you’re likely familiar with the life cycle of a butterfly.

As a project with a child I was homeschooling, we observed the process of five caterpillars making their incredible transformations into gorgeous Painted Lady butterflies.


The process seems beautiful, doesn’t it? Poetic, even. A chubby caterpillar whose chief job is to chew and crawl becomes a chrysalis and emerges into a beautiful butterfly.

However, what seems like a peaceful transformation process is actually far from a glamorous experience.

While in its chrysalis, parts of the caterpillar disintegrate. Yes, disintegrate. Turning into a caterpillar soup* of sorts, digested by its own enzymes. Still want that poem cross-stitched on your pillow?

*Note: While it used to be thougtht caterpillars become an entirely liquified mess of goo, they keep some structures intact, such as certain muscles, its nervous system, and imaginal discs (more on those later). Some organs become clumps of cells, not entirely disintegrated. We’re talking about a thick, chunky soup with structure to it here.

From the outside of the chrysalis, you can’t tell that a horror show is taking place on the inside. You just see an immobile shell, and you know something beautiful will emerge out of it.

The plan for the caterpillar is predetermined beforehand. We know that a butterfly is going to emerge. This complicated transformation is all a part of the plan.

The Bible promises in Philippians 1:3 that God is going to complete the work that He started in us. If He’s called you to be a part of His family, He will help you to let go of sin, become more like Jesus, and complete the tasks He has for you to spread the gospel.

In His Word, God often uses the metaphor of the Potter and clay. He is the Potter; we are the clay. The process of being molded and changed and transformed is not always an easy one. Like the caterpillar’s transformation, it can be messy. It can be painful. But it’s all done with a purpose.

Before it even reaches the chrysalis stage, the caterpillar develops parts of its adult butterfly components while it’s still an egg. These components are called imaginal discs. When the little creature becomes caterpillar soup in chrysalis, the digested bits help fuel the growth of the imaginal discs into full-fledged wings, legs, eyes, and more.

Just like caterpillars have their imaginal discs, God’s given you what you need to complete the tasks He’s asked of you. Second Peter 1:3 says that His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”  He’s already equipped you. You were made to do His works (Ephesians 2:10).

The messy, difficult, sometimes painful transformation process helps you to use the gifts God’s given you to the fullest. During these periods, you learn to rely on God and trust that He’s going to bring something beautiful out of it all. After it’s all said and done, you’ll emerge stronger than before.

God doesn’t leave projects half-finished. He completes them. He won’t leave you in the transformation phase forever.

One final note: It’s easy for us to compare our lives, our ministries, and our relationships with God to those of other people. You may see someone doing incredible things that you want to be able to do, or you’ll observe them having the close relationship with the Lord that you wish you had. But just as you can’t see the complicated process taking place inside the chrysalis, you may not know the struggle it took them to get there. Through your own transformation process, you’ll get to where God wants you to be at the pace that’s right for you.

Today’s Thoughts: What might God bring out of your current situation? Has the process seemed more difficult than it would be? Does it seem never-ending at times? What would happen if you could fully trust that God will complete the work He began in you? What tools has God already given you that He might sharpen through this?

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