It was a different kind of lesson. The Sunday School class didn’t follow a normal routine. The guest teacher addressed issues of the elderly, death, and dying. The teacher was part of a wonderful service organization that includes hospice care. Being one of the many seniors in the class, she had my undivided attention. It was illuminating to hear this outstanding presentation from a Christian perspective.
Later, as I reflected on the class, I recalled a statement that I have carried in my memory from my youth to this day. I heard a noted, elderly evangelist say, “I am no more afraid of death than I’m afraid of a butterfly.” The image of a beautiful, gentle butterfly certainly doesn’t conjure up fearful thoughts about death.
I taught High School Biology for a number of years. A favorite part for me, and I think for the students, was the study of the life cycle of the butterfly. The concept of metamorphosis is amazing. For the sake of brevity, I’ll just touch on a few high points. The process starts with a butterfly laying an egg. The egg develops into a caterpillar. Once fully grown, the caterpillar forms itself into a “pupa” (or chrysalis) – a kind of vessel in which the caterpillar changes into a butterfly. Finally, the beautiful, graceful butterfly emerges and takes wings and flies away.
I thought of the similarities in my life’s journey to that of the butterfly. For example the butterfly’s caterpillar stage consists mainly of voracious eating as it prepares for the next stage. My physical profile will validate my time in the ‘caterpillar’ stage. But, I certainly trust there was growth in the inner man as well.
In the next stage, the caterpillar weaves a chrysalis and basically becomes inactive as changes are taking place on the inside. Now retired, my daily activity has slowed. With the help of the Holy Spirit and additional time, there have been many internal changes as I grow ever closer to the Lord. “Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace” (2 Corinthians 4:16, MSG).
My caterpillar stage is nearing completion while I’m being renewed inwardly. Like the butterfly, I am waiting to breaking free, to drop the old robe of flesh and with new wings of the spirit fly away to heaven and home.
Because of Jesus, I am no more afraid of death than I’m afraid of a butterfly.
~ Brother Roy