One day a man found the cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared. He watched the butterfly for several hours struggling to force its body through that tiny little hole. Until it suddenly stopped. It was stuck. So the man decided to help it. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining cocoon. The butterfly had emerged easily, although it had a swollen body and small and shriveled wings. The man didn’t think anything about it - he waited for the wings to develop outside the cocoon . . . but they didn’t. The butterfly spent the rest of its life unable to fly. Despite the kind heart of the man, he didn’t understand that the restricting cocoon and the struggle to push through that small opening - was nature’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly to its wings - to prepare for flight once through. What looked hard, was necessary for the butterfly to grow into the beautiful creature we know it to be.
Friends, things can be hard. This week alone in our congregation - we had folks that had surgery and experienced grief, we had Chad and Toni and family lose part of their house to fire, we had job losses, foreclosures, marital separations and struggles, and the list goes on. All this while we are in the midst of a pandemic where patience is running thin and tempers even thinner. Our culture doesn’t help this - by preying on division and chaos, leaving us exhausted and frustrated by having us constantly question the integrity of our neighbors. There were celebrations too - but this is a heavy season for many of our folks and let’s be real about that.
God is calling us to a different way of life. A life of intentionality and a life of purpose. Where our struggles become part of our strength. Where our doubts become fuel for our faith. And where God’s presence and love changes everything.
Paul - when writing to encourage the Corinthians - uses these two verses (among other words of wisdom) to encourage. Hear them:
“With all this going for us, dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)
“Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you’ve got, be resolute, and love without stopping.” (1 Corinthians 16:13-14)
Be persistent in love. Don’t hold back in the important things. Be encouraged in the Spirit - that you are not alone and that God is with you in the struggles you face. Because the struggles are purposeful - God is redeeming us through our struggles. The cross of Jesus, with all of its hardship and pain, was the pathway to resurrection. Don’t lose hope, friends, because God is for you and with you always. Sometimes we make life harder than it needs to be. Sometimes struggle seems sideways but in God’s economy, it’s always redeemable. That’s grace. Always.
This Sunday, we will discuss another Gospel message of encouragement that is illustrated through the persistence of Marlin and Nemo in the Disney movie, Finding Nemo. Come join us at 9:00 for tent church where Buttered Biscuit is providing biscuits, we will have individual servings of Holy Communion, and the Spirit will be present. We also would love to see you on the live stream at 9:00, 10:10, or 11:11 (depending on preferred style).