Sometimes important dates come and fly past us and we don’t even recognize that they are gone. You know, the anniversary that passes unnoticed until someone (wife?) looks at the calendar!
I dare say that the anniversary of the Reformation is not something that many in our society think about on a day-to-day basis.
But whether we think about it or not, this year is an important one in the life of the Christian Church. It is the 500th anniversary of the day in October, 1517 that Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the door of the church in the German town of Wittenberg. This act, so small and seemingly insignificant, lit the fuse that turned into the flame of the Protestant Reformation. And, that flame burns even today, 500 years later.
In thinking about transformation and reformation, one cannot help consider the example of the butterfly. Its change from a caterpillar into the butterfly, a creature more beautiful and powerful, symbolizes the soul, reincarnation, and resurrection.
Butterflies are a type of insect. They belong to the order of insects called Lepidoptera, which means “scaly wings”. The butterfly’s life cycle is made up of four stages, each of which are unique and very different from each other. This process is called metamorphosis which means “change of form.” First, the butterfly starts as an egg. After about a week, the egg hatches and a tiny caterpillar emerges.
After 2 to 4 weeks, the full-grown caterpillar transforms itself into a chrysalis/ or pupa. It hangs from a tree or bush, appearing to be doing nothing, but inside the caterpillar’s body becomes the adult structure of the butterfly. This stage takes 10 to 15 days.
Then, the former caterpillar emerges as a beautiful butterfly.
But that emergence did not come easily … the insect has to struggle inside the cocoon, pushing against the sides before ultimately breaking through into the sunlight. It is the struggle to emerge that strengthens the insect’s wings so that it will fly.
In other words, it is in the struggle itself that strength is born!
So, think about your life. When did you have a trial, a struggle? Have you seen strength come from the struggle?
The writer of Hebrews talks about struggles during persecution of believers:
But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated.
Hebrews 10:32-33 ESV.
Then there are the struggles that come from sin:
Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
Hebrews 12:3-4 ESV
In light of what Jesus did for us, we must persevere and not grow weary during our own struggle against sin. We know that the struggles we have are strengthening us in our Christian life and that we can be strong in the Lord through the Grace that God grants liberally and freely to those who call on His Name.
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.”
2 Corinthians 9:8-9 ESV
Consider the butterfly and the struggle that it had to endure before it could soar over the fields. Now, thank the Lord for giving you the ability to soar in spirit to your Heavenly Father, now and for all eternity.
Father, thank You for granting us salvation through Your Son, Jesus Christ. I praise Your Name for putting me under the protection of the Good Shepherd. Thank You, too, for the struggles that have come which serve to strengthen me and which allow me to grow through Your Grace and Mercy.