The difference between a fat caterpillar and a butterfly is startling. Obvious transformation occurs. No one has to ask if there is a difference because the thing looks, acts, and even feeds differently. Abilities are present—flying—that were beyond imagination before.

That’s what’s missing in so much of Christianity today. We take on the name of Christ, his spirit is planted in us, then we stop. We skip the death into new life part and wonder why we receive the title of hypocrite.  We’re not becoming more Christ-like, we’ve simply switched our last name and skipped the “leave and cleave” bit, much like modern marriages. 

Even Jesus had an intense wilderness experience where he completely unplugged from everything comfortable and even necessary. He walked away from food and even a sure water source, choosing hardship. I’m not sure His mindset needed correction, but He’s called us to follow in His footsteps. He received baptism, a major requirement of Christianity representing death and rebirth. But we skip the next part of leaving and cleaving. For Jesus, this meant heading into the wilderness.

But what of our Exodus? Our allegiances and habits are from the old Christ-less life, yet so often we keep on with business as usual lest we become too religious-looking, leaving the die-to-self bit to other religions.

Paul had three years of detox and pulling aside from influence to hear God’s heart. The Israelites had a forced national pilgrimage to burn the Egypt out of them that had to be extended 40 years because some of the old dogs couldn’t learn new tricks.

Often, life will force the desert on us, but the modern Christian is trained to think somehow they’re out of God’s favor if hardship comes, forgetting the part that even Jesus learned “obedience through suffering.”

In cultures violently opposed to Jesus, the chrysalis is unavoidable since choosing Christ means an immediate ostracizing, banishment, or death. The leave and cleave step happens because all else is forcibly stripped away—family, friends, status, etc. This is why the cause of Christ thrives in hardship, why so many discover God in prison or rehab or when they lose a loved one. 

The term “dark night of the soul” should be embraced. It’s a time when we’re blinded by grief or feel a spiritual starvation. Think of it as God’s chrysalis phase. Allow Him to wrap around you, shutting out lesser things, until you emerge in His timing… with wings to fly.

Chana is wife of one, mom to four and bestselling author of two. She brakes for old barns, chai, homemade cookies and any time someone needs to watch Pride & Prejudice.

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