Be Careful How You Help That Butterfly!

One of the few lists I subscribe to on the Internet is the Daily Dig, from the Bruderhof communities. It offers a thought-provoking quote every day and most of them are incredible. I got this one a few days ago. I know it is an old illustration, but one worth repeating.

One day as a small opening appeared on a cocoon, a man sat for several hours watching the butterfly struggle to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could and it could go no further. So the man decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily, but it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time.

Neither happened. In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly. What the man, in his kindness and haste, did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening was nature’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings. Then the butterfly would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If we were allowed to go through our life without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as what we could be. We could never fly.

No where does this apply more clearly than it does with people breaking free of religious obligation to live freely in God’s life. You can’t badger people into it. You cannot drag them out on your own or you will damage them and God’s work in them. They’ll never learn to soar in God’s grace if they don’t embrace the struggle themselves and learn to rely on God as he frees them. That’s the only way out.

There is a huge difference between encouraging someone as God leads them on the journey, and taking over the journey for them. If we can’t remember that we’ll find our best intentions to help other will only be destructive to them. Cheer them on, don’t push them ahead.

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18 Comments
  1. eddie July 13, 2004 at 4:05 pm

    Awesome life-giving words. That is the most incredible thing I have learnt from you Wayne – the freedom to let others find the journey for themselves. Thanks for expanding on the butterfly analogy. Conforming others into grace and freedom is just another form of legalism.

    in the Son

    eddie

    %)

  2. Bruce July 13, 2004 at 6:42 pm

    Why didn’t you tell me this BEFORE I tried to pull all my friends out of the IC kicking and screaming? (it was mostly ME who was kicking and screaming!)

    hehehe

  3. eddie July 13, 2004 at 7:05 pm

    Awesome life-giving words. That is the most incredible thing I have learnt from you Wayne – the freedom to let others find the journey for themselves. Thanks for expanding on the butterfly analogy. Conforming others into grace and freedom is just another form of legalism.

    in the Son

    eddie

    %)

  4. Bruce July 13, 2004 at 9:42 pm

    Why didn’t you tell me this BEFORE I tried to pull all my friends out of the IC kicking and screaming? (it was mostly ME who was kicking and screaming!)

    hehehe

  5. george July 14, 2004 at 3:40 am

    Hey Bruce,

    We were told we just did not believe it!

    I posted the same type of advice recently on someone’s blog and was accused of being in bondage for not confronting the "evil" in the system and was told by the person that they would pray for me to be "free" of the fear of man. Just proved to me that it is only by His Spirit that people have their eyes opened. Nothing we do can do it and if we do try to "rescue" people from the struggle then we stunt or cause more damage than good.

    Peace

  6. Steve July 14, 2004 at 5:58 am

    Hmmm. Makes me wonder if going through the religious obligation of the IC is not necessary in order for us to develop properly.

  7. Bruce July 14, 2004 at 6:13 am

    You mean… like the Jews were enslaved by Egypt?

    They suffered abuse, were poorly fed, and were made to work like animals. Sound familiar? Maybe it’s impossible to know freedom until you’ve truly tasted bondage.

  8. george July 14, 2004 at 6:40 am

    Hey Bruce,

    We were told we just did not believe it!

    I posted the same type of advice recently on someone’s blog and was accused of being in bondage for not confronting the "evil" in the system and was told by the person that they would pray for me to be "free" of the fear of man. Just proved to me that it is only by His Spirit that people have their eyes opened. Nothing we do can do it and if we do try to "rescue" people from the struggle then we stunt or cause more damage than good.

    Peace

  9. Steve July 14, 2004 at 8:58 am

    Hmmm. Makes me wonder if going through the religious obligation of the IC is not necessary in order for us to develop properly.

  10. Bruce July 14, 2004 at 9:13 am

    You mean… like the Jews were enslaved by Egypt?

    They suffered abuse, were poorly fed, and were made to work like animals. Sound familiar? Maybe it’s impossible to know freedom until you’ve truly tasted bondage.

  11. Matt July 14, 2004 at 9:28 am

    This is so true! I find that I have to constantly remember this right now. My wife and I are only a few months into this new journey of freedom, and it is so easy to want to pulll everyone we know along with us. We have realized that we have no more business trying to drag our friends out of the IC than they do to try to drag us back in (although there is certainly some of that happening). I can’t usurp the Holy Spirit’s role in their lives!

    BTW, thanks for demonstrating this idea in your own life, Wayne.

  12. Matt July 14, 2004 at 12:28 pm

    This is so true! I find that I have to constantly remember this right now. My wife and I are only a few months into this new journey of freedom, and it is so easy to want to pulll everyone we know along with us. We have realized that we have no more business trying to drag our friends out of the IC than they do to try to drag us back in (although there is certainly some of that happening). I can’t usurp the Holy Spirit’s role in their lives!

    BTW, thanks for demonstrating this idea in your own life, Wayne.

  13. Lucy July 15, 2004 at 12:14 am

    So, those in the system who are being severely damaged are to be left there. Those who are being abused in the system are to be left there.

    Some never make it out. They commit suicide.

    I had a friend who did that because of the religious system.

    I wish someone had been around to help her get out.

    It’s no secret I don’t agree with you on this. Bad things happen when good men stay silent.

    Lucy

  14. Stuart July 15, 2004 at 2:44 am

    I don’t think its so much that they should be left there, but forcing someone to leave an institution is only causing them to replace one form of bondage for another.

    If I have won someone by my persuasive arguments and my bombarding them with pressure to be free I haven’t set them free at all. They are in bondage to me, or to a new set of rules to which I have introduced them. As Peter said "by whom a man is overcome, to him is he in bondage".

    That dosen’t mean we should do nothing. Freedom itself can be contagious or certainly motivating. Jesus didn’t spend his time trying to pull people out of the synagouge, but he clearly demonstrated the liberty of being God’s Son and living under the authority of the Father. For those whom God is drawing, a living demonstration of what they sense in their hearts is, i believe, the thing that will encourage and inspire liberty.

    Stuart

  15. Lucy July 15, 2004 at 3:14 am

    So, those in the system who are being severely damaged are to be left there. Those who are being abused in the system are to be left there.

    Some never make it out. They commit suicide.

    I had a friend who did that because of the religious system.

    I wish someone had been around to help her get out.

    It’s no secret I don’t agree with you on this. Bad things happen when good men stay silent.

    Lucy

  16. george July 15, 2004 at 3:20 am

    Good word Stuart!

    I too believe that the best we can do to assist others in being free is to show them by our lives what it means to truly be free in Christ Jesus. And that example of true freedom will be very appealing to those who are captive to the machine.

    I think of how Jesus spoke in parables and only revealed the Whole Story to those who came afterwards and asked the question: "What did you mean when you said………." I believe the words that Jesus spoke when He said, "Those who seek Me will find me"

    Peace

  17. Stuart July 15, 2004 at 5:44 am

    I don’t think its so much that they should be left there, but forcing someone to leave an institution is only causing them to replace one form of bondage for another.

    If I have won someone by my persuasive arguments and my bombarding them with pressure to be free I haven’t set them free at all. They are in bondage to me, or to a new set of rules to which I have introduced them. As Peter said "by whom a man is overcome, to him is he in bondage".

    That dosen’t mean we should do nothing. Freedom itself can be contagious or certainly motivating. Jesus didn’t spend his time trying to pull people out of the synagouge, but he clearly demonstrated the liberty of being God’s Son and living under the authority of the Father. For those whom God is drawing, a living demonstration of what they sense in their hearts is, i believe, the thing that will encourage and inspire liberty.

    Stuart

  18. george July 15, 2004 at 6:20 am

    Good word Stuart!

    I too believe that the best we can do to assist others in being free is to show them by our lives what it means to truly be free in Christ Jesus. And that example of true freedom will be very appealing to those who are captive to the machine.

    I think of how Jesus spoke in parables and only revealed the Whole Story to those who came afterwards and asked the question: "What did you mean when you said………." I believe the words that Jesus spoke when He said, "Those who seek Me will find me"

    Peace

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