Hanging in the Balance
Sep 13, 2015 03:53AM ● Published by Bonnie Lyn Smith
As ridiculous as this may sound, I recently prayed for a free caterpillar for my youngest son, Little Man.
Little Man is an outdoor kind of guy. Anything that grows, crawls, or breathes completely fascinates him. Considering his not insignificant focus and anxiety struggles, nature has become his personal sanctuary. If there’s a snake or chipmunk, a locust exoskeleton, or deer prints (in the snow) to be spotted, he likes to investigate, research, and track results. We’ve grown a sunflower and planted many things in our soil. They’ve all been their own special brand of therapy.
Four days ago, he found a small caterpillar, Smiley. We had no idea where it was in its life cycle, or rather, how close to the chrysalis stage, but we were about to find out.
I did my research and kept it in an appropriate container with leaves and a stick. After getting a little fatter and crawling around as a happy green color, he scrunched up and turned black one day. Little Man assured me this was the chrysalis phase, and sure enough, he was right, only Smiley never made it up the stick to hang in a J shape. Without the proper “hanging position,” all my sources told me he’d have lopsided wing structure/ability. What’s a girl to do?
To no avail, for 15 minutes, I chased a wiggly chrysalis around the table trying to tie a string on a stem at the end, dutifully following Chrysalis Rescue instructions to string it up so it could develop "balanced wings."
It then occurred to me that this must be what happened to me years ago. I didn't hang my chrysalis correctly.
Ever know that feeling?
Ever feel that you are
hanging in the balance,
waiting to see if you end up untethered and fallen, jumping helplessly and aimlessly, smothering tightly in your own anxiety, unable to grab at resources, but all the while waiting for someone to pull you back up, if you do fall, so you can get back to the business of “becoming” something, safe in your cocoon?
Maybe you’ve lost hope you can get to the butterfly stage. Perhaps others along the way told you you’d never make it.
Maybe you are certain that you won’t even get your wings out. What’s the point? It’s too hard. After all, you’ll probably be one of the many caterpillar statistics out there with a fallen chrysalis.
Maybe you don’t believe enough to climb the twig or branch and attempt the next step.
Some days a thin thread is all that seems to hold us there. A jolt from this crisis or that stressor threatens to knock us down if we’ve even been bold and hopeful enough to make the climb. Even the winds of change can blow us back and forth on that delicate string—the only thing that seems to keep us from smacking down in failure.
I have no idea if Smiley will emerge a healthy butterfly. He may surprise me and end up a moth. All I know is that I’m going to keep trying to get him up there, avoiding disturbing or handling him as much as I can. I want him to have the best chance. He got this far, after all.
Job 37:14-16, ESV, Elihu speaking to Job in his time of distress
"Hear this, O Job; stop and consider the wondrous works of God. Do you know how God lays his command upon them and causes the lightning of his cloud to shine? Do you know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of him who is perfect in knowledge…”
In these verses, Elihu reminds Job that only God holds the clouds in balance and causes the lightning to shine. When you really think about it, we often put our faith in some mythical Steps A, B, and C of hanging our chrysalis up in safety, when, really, thread or no thread, if God wants us to become butterflies, we will.
It doesn’t matter how many obstacles appear to be in our way.
It doesn’t even matter if what we thought was our safe cocoon ends up in a heap on the floor.
When we break free of the false safety we often hide within, it’s often in that place that our wings take full flight.
Consider the psalmist’s perspective here:
Psalm 119:109-117, ESV, Psalmist Unknown
I hold my life in my hand
continually, but I do not forget your law.
The wicked have laid a snare for me, but I do not stray from your precepts.
Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart.
I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, to the end.
[Samekh] I hate the double-minded, but I love your law.
You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word.
Depart from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commandments of my God.
Uphold me according to your promise, that I may live, and let me not be put to shame in my hope!
Hold me up, that I may be safe and have regard for your statutes continually!
How does the psalmist refer to his hiding place?
As God himself (“You are my hiding place and my shield”) and also His Word.
What connection does he make to remaining attached to the safety God provides?
Staying out of the counsel of (or away from) evildoers, and obeying God.
The psalmist mentioned being held up twice: “Uphold me,” and “Hold me up.” He knows Who it is that keeps him in hope, promise, and safety.
I don't know about you, but when I’m despairing or tempted to think in negative terms, listening to and believing the naysayers, evildoers, or double-minded around me, a thin string of my own contriving isn’t enough. I need the promise of a Savior, a Creator, who brought me into this life with purpose and will hold me up, just like the clouds.
Instead of fearing life outside the cocoon of my own making, I can roll up inside His promises and know He will carry me to the next step. Fallen as I am at times, He will see me to completion, just like the butterfly.
Philippians 1:6, ESV, Apostle Paul speaking
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
If you believe in Christ and confess your need for Him as Savior and Lord of your life, you are forever connected to a God
· Who will not let you go
· Whose purposes for your life will happen when you obey and follow Him
· Who never lets anyone define you except Himself
He already sees you, through the finished work of the cross, as unblemished and complete, soaring with His Spirit (a gift to you) beyond what you thought was ever possible—beyond your former sway of uncertainty inside a chrysalis of self-protection and assumed defeat.
Author Bonnie Lyn Smith writes about parenting, marriage, mental health advocacy, special education, faith in the valleys of life, the healing cloak of Jesus, drawing healthy boundaries, relational healing, renewing our minds, walking with a Holy God, and much ado about grace. Join the conversation at Espressos of Faith.
Her book, Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day, offers anecdotes on all of these subjects and Scripture for each situation as well as Book Discussion Questions for deeper exploration.