He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6
All good things must begin. Even so, beginnings are hard. The gap between beginning and completion can be daunting. Today doesn’t feel much like the beginning, but I guess in some ways it still is.
In the very beginning, God whispered two words to me. Just two. It’s taken my heart a long while to absorb them. As I held my week old baby girl, the words paper butterfly meant absolutely nothing to me. Not yet anyway. My heart stirred with just as much excitement as wonder, and I tucked those two words away and waited for God to explain Himself.
A few months later, I stood spellbound in the middle of the Cockrell Butterfly Center. I witnessed something sacred as I stood on the other side of thick, clear glass. Vulnerable butterflies fought their way out of dead, crusty casings which had kept them hidden. The struggle seemed familiar somehow.
Wings marked the transformation. Wet and flimsy, they were not at all what I was expecting. I assumed that once the butterflies emerged, they’d be strong enough to fly. I wasn’t expecting frailty or weakness; I was rooting for immediate transformation. After all, The Hungry Caterpillar makes it all look so simple and carefree. Transformation is a process, a changing of character or nature.
Transformation is always miraculous, yet never immediate.
The glass window was a mirror that day. God peeled back the veil and invited me to see how His love not only saved me, but is changing me. He demonstrated His love through Jesus, who struggled on my behalf and made it possible for me to escape death. He broke out of the tomb so I could break free from sin’s grip.
Without Jesus, I would still be dead; I would still be in hiding. Jesus gave His life so that I could spend the rest of mine being transformed by His perfect love. I realized that day at the museum a vast expanse of God’s love was left undiscovered in my own heart.
When we made our way in to the butterfly habitat, I was mesmerized by millions of beautiful creatures taking flight. No two seemed alike. Each had its very own flight pattern. It was peaceful and overwhelming all at once.
Only one snatched my breath away. While others flapped and flitted, this butterfly glided effortlessly. Others flashed striking colors, but this one had translucent black and white wings that allowed the sunlight to pour through. I was drawn to the way something greater seemed to carry it along. With outstretched wings, this butterfly rode the wind. No effort, no rush, no trying to be something other than ordinary.
The image of the black and white butterfly lingered long after we loaded the kids back up and drove home. I eventually learned its name. It was no surprise that the creature that mimics paper floating through the air is called a rice paper butterfly or paper kite. God began a conversation that day that led me to this simple discovery: We were made to soar, not strive.
God never begins something He won’t finish.
This really isn’t even the beginning. God has always known me, and He’s always known you. The space between beginning and completion can be a struggle. It can be messy, and it can be hard, but Jesus entered that space and dealt with the part we never could.
This in-between space is about discovering the One who thought of you in the very, very beginning. It’s about laying down everything you carry so that love—Love who sacrificed everything—can carry you, in His arms, back to the Father.
Philippians 1:6 says this: He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
This good work is the good news, and it existed before time began. It wasn’t just a solution to the world’s sin problem. The good news of Jesus Christ is an ever present expression of the Father’s heart toward you and me.
Jesus carried your burden to the cross; He carried all the shame and all the guilt; He felt the full weight of being separated from God. His last words were, “It is finished.”
Jesus longs to speak these words of completion over our striving, over our trying to be a little bit better than yesterday, over our working our way back to God. He is the only Way back, and He is the only Way out. He is the only Way to new life.
God is telling His story through our simple and fragile lives. Because this story is good and because this story is true, God can be trusted to carry us all the way through completion. I invite you on a journey you won’t ever outgrow. Let’s discover Him together. Let’s rest in the beauty of this truth . . .