Lessons From My Daughter’s Caterpillar: Living in Wonder

My daughter’s 5th grade teacher gave her a tiny little caterpillar in a baby food container with holes punched in the top.  On the first day, the caterpillar was so tiny, like a black chunk of who-knows-what.  I tried to show it to her sister and she jumped back because she thought it was like a mole or something I had had removed at the doctor.  Come. on.  I’m not that gross.  The teacher told us that the caterpillar would eat for 6-ish days straight and then create a chrysalis to hang from the top of the container.  Then, in another four days, it would emerge as a butterfly.  I’m officially living in wonder.

Of course, I know this story.  I’ve read the books.  I’ve seen the butterflies.  I taught 3rd grade.  But something about watching this little tiny sliver of nothing has me full of wonder this week.  Currently, we are on day 6, waiting for it to create its chrysalis.  I know it’s getting close.  It has quintupled in size and it’s making its way to the top of the container.

I learn so much about God just by paying attention.  So I asked him…show me what you want me to see.

Here are the big lessons this week…

1.  We don’t have to know how it’s going to turn out.

Have you ever been really stressed about something in your life and you really just wanted to fast forward to the end to see how it would turn out?  Yeah, me too.  I don’t know this for sure, but I don’t think this tiny little black thing knows he’s going to be beautiful in 4 days.  I don’t think he has any idea that every time a child sees him fluttering around the yard, she will announce, “Look!  A butterfly!”  I bet he has no idea that he’s about to be the only insect that people actually enjoy having land on them.  But he just does the next right thing.  He does what he knows to do next.  He’s not focused on how it will turn out.  He’s focused on today and what God shows him to do right now.  I need to do more. of. that.

2.  We are created with a specific purpose in mind. 

I’m watching this little guy and my mind is blown that he actually knows what to do.  He eats and eats.  That seems natural.  But how does he know how to create the chrysalis?  How does he know when to start it? I couldn’t make a chrysalis for myself if I tried, but this little guy can.  Because God created him with this purpose in mind.  He was made for this, specifically.  In the same way, and even more so, every human being is created with a specific purpose in mind.  We are not here to toil and just work and get by.  No way. 

He’s given each of us specific gifts to carry out very important purposes here on earth.  If he cares that much to give the caterpillar a job, don’t you think he cares so much more for you?  I’m absolutely certain of it.  If you don’t know what you’re made for, ask someone who loves you to tell you what you’re good at.  That might give you a hint about your purpose.  What makes you come alive?  Ask God to show you and then really pay attention over the next few days as He reveals it to you.

3.  We were created to live in wonder. 

I think this is really important.  Because wonder leads to worship.  And worship takes our eyes off of our problems and shifts them to our problem solver.  We are made for wonder and worship.

I don’t want to throw anyone under the bus here, but we had people over to our house the other day.  I was showing them the caterpillar, and most of them were like, meh. 

Meh?  Meh?  How can you not be filled with wonder at this little guy??  We lose our wonder as we get older if we don’t nurture it, and we rarely notice that it is happening. 

Have you ever seen a little boy run outside to watch the garbage truck pick up his trash can?  He’s full of wows, eyes wide open.  He is embracing the wonder of something exciting. 

How about a grown man…have you ever seen a grown man run outside to watch the garbage truck?  I’m guessing that’s a no.  So what happened in the in-between?  The truck didn’t change.  The man’s attitude toward the truck changed.  It’s still a cool truck.  It’s still cool to watch it do its job.  The caterpillar, the sunset, the people, the birds, the phone calls out of the blue, the person you “coincidentally ran into.”  These are all big wows.  Allow your mind and body and spirit to live in that wow space.  Don’t you dare lose that.  God is all around us, doing incredible miracles, pointing us back to him.  Keep your eyes wide open and allow these little miracles to amaze you and move your gaze back to the one who created them.  Live with wonder.  Let yourself say wow all day long.  Wow.  Wonder.  Worship.

4.  God is always working on something beautiful. 

Guys, this is important to me.  You know that little black chunk that my daughter thought might be a mole?  That ugly little thing is about to sit at the top of the insect pyramid.  Oh yeah.  Just wait.  And you know the ugly stuff in your life?  God can and will turn that into something that is actually beautiful too.  If you let him.  If you hang in there with him.  If you listen to him.  If you walk with him through it.  Something beautiful is coming.

5.  We can listen to God for him to tell us what to do next. 

God will show you what to do next.  He’s telling this caterpillar to eat and eat.  And then after that, he’s telling him what comes next.  He does the same for us.  The Bible is a gift to show us the way.  I love what Beaver Fleming says about it.  “As you continue to look into his Word, his Word becomes your word.  And you start speaking differently and start acting differently.”  His Word is not a book of rules.  It is God’s best for you.  Read it every day and let it become part of you.  He will light your path as you read it.  He will speak to you and guide you.  The bible also says  that you will hear God’s voice telling you which way to go, if you are walking with Him.  Listen to his guidance.  This is the way, walk in it.  He delights in our connectedness to him.  He delights when we listen.  He delights in showing us what to do next.  Why in the world would we want to do it on our own?  Ask and listen and wait for him to show you what to do next.

Update:  He was hanging from the top of the container like a big fat caterpillar.  I went to take a shower and came back an hour later.  He had already made the chrysalis.  I’m a little bummed because I wanted to watch the process.  How did he do that so fast?  Mind officially blown.  Wow.  Everything is just wow.