My dad recently had open-heart surgery; he had 6 bypasses and an aortic valve replacement. Pretty major stuff, and there are so many amazing word pictures regarding the heart.... like, what it means to "open" your heart, and allow the "restoration" of your heart. His recovery has been slow and difficult for all of us around him. As he is now finally coming out of the grog of a 10-hour surgery and 18 different drugs dripping into his veins, he will begin the hard work of recovery, which will be slow and difficult for him.
He is quite literally in the middle of a transformational process. Before his surgery, he was a man whose heart was failing. He was getting weaker, struggling to breathe. He was unable to complete simple tasks that previously, he'd done without thinking, like filling the car up with gas or going to get the mail at the end of the driveway. As he recovers, he will get stronger, and each day he'll do more than he'd been able to do the day before.
There's a huge spiritual component as well. Before, he was a man who found his identity in his own physical strength. He grew up on a farm in Iowa, a strapping fella, always proud of his brawn. Of course, this is not the full picture of his identity, but it was a big part of who he was. Now, he has found the place where there is no physical strength, he's at the end of himself. He will have to fully rely on Christ who strengthens him, inside and out. He's being transformed into a man who finds his identity not in what he can do, but in what Christ has done and is doing in him.
Transformation is exciting! It gets me all aflutter. And who doesn't love the picture of the caterpillar being transformed in a butterfly? But I was thinking this morning about what hard work it is. The hard work is the part we forget, or gloss over, but is so important. That caterpillar doesn't go into his cocoon and take a nice long nap until one day, Poof! Transformation is complete and now he's beautiful and flying free. There's all kinds of work going on in that cocoon. And, once he is a butterfly, it's a lot of work to get out of the cocoon. Growing wings is slow and strenuous. It is work he must do alone. If someone comes along and helps him out, it actually harms the butterfly.
As nice as it would be to skip the work of transformation, we can't. The transformation is real and lasting when we do the work. God actually does a lot of the work, and He created the design and plan for just what kind of a butterfly we'll be. But there's business that we have to attend to, as well. Dear LORD, help me pay attention to the work you've given me, and get it done, so I can fly--beautiful and free!