Monday, April 7, 2008

Wait, Watch, Expectantly

cocoon in Japanese Maple - 4/6/08

There's more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!
Romans 5:3-4 (The Message)

I discovered a cocoon in a Japanese maple yesterday. This silken construction has always fascinated me. I decided to carefully break the branch that the cocoon was clinging to and take it inside. I then found a container to place it on so I could observe it up close. I wait, I watch, expectantly.

When I first laid eyes on the cocoon, memories of times almost forgotten flooded my mind. I was transported back in time to a spring afternoon spent at my Mema and Papa Tanner's when I was nine years old. A carefree warm day spent outdoors with a few cousins…what pleasure.

I don't remember exactly where I found it. It wasn't anything special to look upon, but I knew from pictures in books and lessons from Moma that within that delicate wrap was an amazing butterfly. I carefully held it in my hand for some time then later proudly displayed it on my Mema's countertop in a Mason jar, after getting someone to punch air holes in the metal lid. There it sat for what seemed like an reality just a few hours.

I imagined that I saw the cocoon move, perhaps it actually did. I impulsively twisted the lid off the jar and reached inside to hold the cocoon. Then I saw a small tear, probably damage I had done by holding it too much, not letting it rest. I waited, watched, expectantly.

Then it happened. The butterfly began to thrash about to force his body through that small slit. Without hesitation, I decided to gently cut the cocoon with a pair of manicure scissors and help release him. Indeed I released the butterfly, but its body was inflated and it had miniature, withered, useless wings. Although I wanted that butterfly to take flight it didn't happen. It only crawled.

In my impatience and ignorance I deprived the butterfly of the struggle. The struggle would have forced the fluid from the body into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.

Am I still like that nine-year old? Impatient, wanting, annoyed, intolerant of God's timing? Father, forgive me. Strengthen me as I wait, watch, expectantly for You.

Psalm 27:14 (NIV) says Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. Psalm 27:13-14 (The Message) says I'm sure now I'll see God's goodness in the exuberant earth. Stay with God! Take heart. Don't quit. I'll say it again: Stay with God.

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