Yes, 4 stages.
We ALL must go through 4 stages. It is actually and totally impossible to NOT go through 4 stages. What I have formulated here are 4 stages of not only an insect life but also a human life: 1. dust, 2. caterpillar, 3. cocoon, 4. butterfly. I have to say, though, that I don’t believe any human living can be at the first stage of dust, i.e., you are alive and breathing because God took that dust and made you. Good to get that out of way, right? As far as the other stages, some people are in the stage of the caterpillar (2), some are now in the cocoon (3), and some are already butterflies and soaring (4).
So, what are these 4 stages all about, as far as mentally and emotionally and spiritually? I can only tell you what I think I know (realizing I know so little):
- DUST: As mentioned. if we are alive and breathing, we are NOT at this stage. Been there, done that, ‘nuf said. We are ALL out and about from this stage. The question I have to ask myself is: “Timothy, are you STILL dust?”
- CATERPILLAR: The caterpillar stage is about looking for something lost. You ever take to wondering why a caterpillar always looks like he or she is looking around for something but seems to be going about looking for whatever it is aimlessly? That is what the caterpillar stage is like for us. We know we are looking for something we lost, but we’re just not sure what it is we are looking for, so we go about God’s Green Earth wandering aimlessly. But we gotta walk pretty long and pretty far before we throw in the towel for the wings! Although we seem lost, and we are, we might do a whole of nasty things before we get SO tired that we really have no other choice (or do we?) but to go into the cocoon. You know that phrase, “kicking and screaming?” Yeah, that sounds about right when it comes to leaving the caterpillar life. But the “kicking and screaming” won’t stop just because we have “given up.” No, there’s more of that to come at a later stage. We do have to go to the cocoon alone, as it always must be in matters such as these. We need to be quite alone and quite quiet when we go there. The question I have to ask myself is: “Timothy, you sure do wander around aimlessly a lot, especially of late, as though you are looking for something or someone you lost. Are you STILL a caterpillar, Timothy?”
- COCOON: This is the stage that separates the “men from the boys”….or the caterpillars from the butterflies! It’s the “hard to handle” stage. It’s the grueling stage. It’s where we fight tooth and nail before we go “up” there and have to stay there, sometimes for a long time. We really had no choice but to go and stay here, and it’s the discomfort that got us there in the first place. In that cocoon is where the real battle is fought. In there, we just get ripped up. But ask yourself this, as far as it relates to insects (for now): Do we really think that the caterpillar that goes “up” in the cocoon and has to stay there is NOT going to go through some serious hurts and pains to go from one specific being to an entirely different specific being? Correct me if I’m wrong, but a caterpillar don’t look nothing like a butterfly! Now, as it relates to humans, we ARE talking about a complete, 100% metamorphosis of ALL our mental and emotional and spiritual faculties. We have to change COMPLETELY from one specific being to an entirely different specific being, for Christ’s sake! That, right there, cannot be expected to be or feel comfortable, so we shouldn’t think being or feeling in the cocoon is going to be anything but uncomfortable. The question to myself is: “Timothy, are you STILL in the cocoon?”
- BUTTERFLY: We HAVE arrived! We have done the hard work and God has helped us along the entire journey to go from dust to caterpillar to cocoon to finally butterfly. My, how we have grown….and changed! Was it easy? NO! If we have not emerged yet from the cocoon, is it going to be easy? NO! Do we have any other choice in the matter? YES! We can get out prematurely….and we often do! We can have someone get us out prematurely….and we often ask! But is that wise? NO! We must stay in there until we have done the work and God has done the work. We have worked it out together for this transformation. There is no other way out, literally and figuratively. But, my, oh my, look what emerges! A butterfly! A beautifully colorful and graceful butterfly who can fly around and soar but God forbid be caught in a net and nailed and pinned in one of those butterfly collections. We don’t want to believe we have to go through all that and God had to go through all that only for us to end up caught in a net! But, alas, this is not only a butterfly reference but also a human reference. People all around us are walking around with nets and they are wanting to catch us and put us in their collections. But we can’t let them! We gotta’ get out of this cocoon when we and God are ready and we gotta’ fly. The question I have to ask myself is: “Timothy, are you STILL a butterfly?“
You might be asking: Are these stages in a certain order or are they flexible? Just given the butterfly emergence, can the butterfly go back to another stage like dust? Sure. That is what we call physical death. Can the butterfly go back to a caterpillar? Sure. That is what we call physical sin. But the butterfly can not go back into the cocoon, nor can the cocoon welcome back the butterfly. Once out of the cocoon, there is no going back in. It is a “sealed deal.”
I have asked myself questions about each of these 4 stages, and only God and I can truly answer my own questions. But what about your answers to these same questions I posed for myself? I would love to know, but I won’t guess. If I know you well, I will want to guess and think I know what stage you are in, but I won’t do that, because I want you to be free, and the only way for you to be free is for me to NOT catch you in my net. Don’t let anyone else catch you in their net.
And, yes, I am STILL talking about BOTH insects AND humans.
-Timothy J. Verret