Monarch Butterflies and Spiritual Transformation: The Day I Met Daniel and David

by Oct 2, 2017

Do you feel discouraged? Are you locked into a hopeless situation and feel like you will suffocate? Take courage. There is a thrilling new day ahead.

This year a dear friend gave my daughter and I a monarch chrysalis tree. She had attached two chrysalis to a little branched stick, which she placed in a square vase – held in place by stones.

A Sudden Birth

A week later, I awoke to find one beautiful jade green chrysalis had turned black. We gazed in awe, for it was still beautiful. Then we realized a process was taking place as the dark cocoon gradually became transparent and the outlines of a butterfly became visible.
Within minutes there was a gentle motion – almost like the chrysalis was breathing. The bottom began to split open and slowly the head of butterfly began to emerge. To our surprise, his abdomen was distended, so he didn’t look like monarchs in our garden.

A caterpillar has hemolymph (blood) that flows within its body cavities providing nourishment to each organ and protecting it from bacteria. During the chrysalis stage, the hemolymph removes waste products and surrounds the internal tissues and organs.

Emerge Into Life

When the monarch emerges from the chrysalis, its abdomen is hugely distended because it is filled with hemolymph.

As we watched, strong abdominal contractions commenced. Very gradually the abdomen shrank as the hemolymph was forced up into the veins of the wings, causing the wings to slowly unfold and expand to full size.

This is a process God has designed; no step can be avoided or hurried up. If you try to help the butterfly, it will die.

Hiding From Threats

What a beautiful picture of our transformation as the Holy Spirit births the life of Christ within us. For so long we are like caterpillars crawling around, just struggling to stay alive.

When caterpillars feel threatened, they drop to the ground and curl up into a ball, trying to protect themselves.

As I thought about that, I realized we react like caterpillars when we feel nervous or threatened. Many of us try to hide. It is as if we drop to the ground and curl up in the fetal position, trying to self-protect. But that action is futile and leaves us exposed to other dangers.

The transformation from a caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly is a mystery and a process. In a sense, the caterpillar must die to life as he knows it when he enters the chrysalis. To remain a caterpillar means he will never fly, never fulfill his destiny as a butterfly.

It is the same for us. Once we know the Lord Jesus, He calls us to enter the waters of baptism. When we do, something wonderful occurs. We enter into death with Jesus and die to life as an earthbound creature. The cocoon is like the empty tomb of Jesus – torn open by life. As we rise from the water of baptism, like butterflies breaking out of the cocoon, we rise to newness of life in Christ.

A Sudden Birth


It was a fascinating experience as we watched two male butterflies, each vibrant with life and beauty, emerge from their chrysalises and rest on the twig while their wings dried. We were thrilled when David and then Daniel (as we named them) crawled onto our finger and rested. Both were content just to be held.

Our excitement grew as they begin to walk on our fingers. What a precious experience our friend gave us. Words can never express our joy as we watched David and then Daniel rebirthed to a new life in a totally different form.

When each became more active, he was carefully carried to the garden to be set free. Each butterfly took a few minutes to be reoriented to life around them, resting on the bush where they were placed before rising up and flying away.

Do you feel ugly? Afraid? Does life feel hopeless? Does it seem there is no escape from what you are going through? Then you have much in common with David and Daniel.

These two little fellows began life as earthbound creatures. Crawling about with nothing better to do than eat a bunch of milkweed leaves. Most caterpillars aren’t very exciting. In fact, many of us view them as worthless. But they aren’t! They are simply in process.

Before Daniel or David could become beautiful and fly unafraid into the sky, they had to hatch out of an egg, then go through 5 stages of larva, each time molting out of their skin. The final indignity seemed to be that after spinning a beautiful chrysalis they were stuck hanging in immobility.

Dying to life as a caterpillar seemed to be the end. But just when all hope seemed to be lost, there was an awakening and they emerged as beautiful butterflies able to travel great distances. Butterflies remind us of spiritual transformation stories, and even the stages of emotional healing.

David and Daniel weren’t always beautiful or free. To become butterflies, they had to go through a process and die to what felt safe or comfortable. They had to die to being earthbound. The Lord loves you. He is committed to you. The Holy Spirit tenderly works in your life to transform the failures, the tragedies, and the wounds to make you like the Lord Jesus. At each stage here on earth, no matter how difficult, give thanks.

When it feels like you can’t breathe, remember the Holy Spirit dwells within you. He gives you His own breath! Caterpillars voraciously eat leaves to be strong and healthy. Feed on the Word of God so you grow and become healthy. As you do, give thanks.

In every situation, no matter how difficult, there is something you can give thanks for – even if it is only to say – Thank you Lord, for this too shall pass. Giving thanks strengthens and prepares you for the next stage of your journey, when, like David and Daniel, you are released, and your spirit will soar in joy and freedom as you celebrate life.

All images are my own except the title image and the butterfly in flight:

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