Does the Caterpillar Know What’s Ahead?

The story of the butterfly is a familiar one. He or she starts out as a lowly crawling creature who eventually builds a cocoon and transforms into a winged beauty. What I do not know, however, is whether the caterpillar is tipped off about what’s ahead.

Does he attend little caterpillar webinars about “Cocoon Prep: How to Be Ready” or “Ten Things to Know about Being a Butterfly” or “Gardeners: Who’s the Real Pest?” Do his parents pull him aside and give him the “butterfly talk,” amid the rumors he hears from his caterpillar peers? Or does he just follow instinct and end up where he needs to be?

The story of the caterpillar, seems to me, often focuses on its future. There is this idea that the caterpillar is going to be something better one day – as if the magnificent journey is somewhere ahead if he’ll just hang in there.

I would say to that: Wait a minute.

People think they’ve got to get to the butterfly part for things to be magnificent. You know – just keep working hard, get through that transformation, and you’ll like what you see.

Well, OK, but no. Not exactly. This is a magnificent part right here. Right this minute. Wherever you are. That butterfly stuff that’s ahead? It can’t happen without what you’re doing right now. Without the caterpillar, there is no butterfly. And who knows but that the butterfly doesn’t have great nostalgia for those good old caterpillar days?

You can’t always put transformation on a timeline – as if it has a beginning point and an ending point.

Years ago I was tipped off to this verse: “Look at the nations and watch—and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.” Habakkuk 1:5 (NIV). I liked how it had a promise about something being amazing in the future.

Over time I have grown more confident in my ability to be wrong or misread ideas. And here’s what I recognize. My days are right now. These are my days. Yours too. A little while back, those were my days too. And something amazing did happen, over and over. Good heavens, where do I start?

Sometimes you just want something, you know? In eighth grade, I wanted to be secretary of the student council. It was an obtuse desire because I had poor penmanship and didn’t like paying attention in meetings – but I wanted what I wanted.

You had to run for this office, which, given that that’s a popularity contest, was not my strong suit, but I signed up. During those days, I had faith that the Lord would listen to my prayers. I sensed that we were in this together, and I prayed and prayed and prayed that I would be elected to that office.

Here’s what happened. When the sign-up deadline passed, turns out, I was the only one in that whole school who wanted to be secretary of the student council. I was the only one on the ballot, and when the election was held, I got all the votes cast – every single one of them. Isn’t that amazing?

I forget about that answered prayer all the time. For years on end, I forget about that answered prayer. But it was amazing.

Are there amazing moments that you have forgotten?

And This Other Time…

When my older sisters were in high school, they were on the yearbook staff. One was editor, which I thought was very cool. When my turn for high school came around, I wanted to be on the yearbook staff too – because I wanted to be like my sisters. I applied. I didn’t make it. I was disappointed.

Faith was harder to come by as my teen years increased. But then I did get into this other situation my senior year. I was on the staff for a student radio program, and I helped write scripts that the students recorded at the local station during the week. The program was broadcast on Saturday mornings. Turns out, these were my first steps in becoming a copywriter, and it was a good fit for me, even then.

After one broadcast, the station program director liked one of the skits, replayed it during his morning program and gave me credit on air as the writer. That was amazing. But also my mother heard his radio program as she drove to school (she was a teacher and left earlier), and she heard his recognition of me.

So she held onto that thought for all those hours until she walked back into the house that afternoon, and as she opened the door, she let me know that she was proud of me. Seems to me, despite all the things you do or have done, one moment of encouragement from one person who is important to you makes a world of difference. Agree?

Enjoy your magnificent journey, friends, and don’t forget the amazing things that are happening in your days. Also, remember to encourage others on their own magnificent journeys. You could make a big difference in their lives – wherever they find themselves on the caterpillar/butterfly spectrum.

— Minnie Lamberth
The Magnificent Journey, Vol. I, Issue 2