The Caterpillar Story
by Rich Murphy
One day, while entering church for a service, I noticed several caterpillars gathered together at the door. That seemed a little unusual to me, but I didn't really think anything of it.
Later, during the worship time, the Lord started talking to me about the caterpillars. I retrieved one with a folded up piece of paper that I had in my pocket and sat watching it, listening to the Lord, while everyone around me was singing.
The caterpillar would crawl to one corner of the paper, then lift the front part of its body up to search for something. I don't know if it was looking for food, or simply for the next place to go. Whatever it was, when he couldn't find it, he'd go around the corner and repeat the process at the next corner.
As I watched, the Lord showed me how similar we are to the caterpillar. The caterpillar's viewpoint of the world is very limited. It doesn't see mountains and oceans, it sees leaves and twigs. If one were to try and explain the larger world to it, it couldn't understand; its view of the world is too limited.
Yet even within its limited perspective, the caterpillar is always searching, always crawling toward a destination it doesn't know, or understand.
One day, the caterpillar will reach a point where it will appear to die. It will crawl out on some little branch of a tree, make its cocoon, and for all intents and purposes end its life as a caterpillar.
I've never talked to a caterpillar, but if I did, I'm sure that it would tell me it didn't want to die. If I tried to explain to it that its death would be a blessing, it would look at me like I was crazy. If I told it that its death would be the beginning of a new and better life, as a butterfly, it would be sure I was crazy.
The caterpillar is perfectly content as it is. It has its world and its food. It doesn't want anything else. It is incapable of dreaming about the day it will be a butterfly, or even having the faintest idea of what that would be like.
If the caterpillar doesn't die, it can't become a butterfly. All of its life, up to the point of death, is only a preparation to come out of its cocoon and live the life of a butterfly.
Just like the caterpillar, we too must come to a day where we appear to die. These bodies we live in will breath their last breath and cease to function. As believers, we shouldn't look at this as a death, but as a birth into a new, and better life. Our bodies must die, so that the butterfly (our spirit) within might enter into that new life.
This life we live now is very limited. While we think we know about the world around us, we can only see the physical world. The larger spiritual realm is beyond our understanding. That's why the Bible talks so little about heaven. Not because God doesn't want us to know about it, but with our limited perspective, we can't comprehend it.
In Second Corinthians, chapter 12, Paul mentions someone who was "caught up to the third heaven" (2 Cor 12:2). Most theologians agree that he was talking about himself. He goes on to say that he heard "inexpressible things" (2 Cor 12:4). Additionally, there have been many believers who have testified about dying, going to heaven, and coming back to life here on earth. Although they all tried to describe how heaven is, they all reached a point in their description where they had to stop. The concepts and words just don't exist, or even have a parallel here on earth.
When these bodies we live in die, we won't feel dead. In fact, we'll feel more alive than ever before. We'll see colors we've never seen; hear sounds we've never heard; smell odors that don't exist here in earth. Just like the butterfly has a greater life than the caterpillar; our spirit man will have a greater life than the physical man does.
The Irish have a custom when people die. Instead of gathering together to mourn the death of a friend or family member, they gather together to have a party and celebrate the life of one who passed on.
As believers, we have no reason to mourn one of our brothers, or sisters who has gone on to be with the Lord. We might miss them, but we haven't lost them. One day, we will be reunited in a far better place. Let's celebrate for them, that they've arrived at the end of the journey which we are still traveling.
Copyright © 2004 by Richard A. Murphy, Maranatha Life. All rights reserved.