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Guiding Life-Verse: "Because You have been my help, therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice." Psalm 63:7

My father's sudden death in a plane crash when I was five was a "life-defining" event for me and my family. That crash cast me into the middle of a kind of "chrysalis". I call it that because it was no ordinary chrysalis, for it not only enclosed me but it acted like a giant puzzle I could not possibly resolve with the few pieces I had at the time. In order to complete it and make my exit, I had to have all the missing pieces. Without them, you see, I was left imprisoned in the dark, for through the years I struggled blindly and painfully to understand what my father's death meant. Trying to figure out what the pieces were and meant took many, many years. While doing this I was trying--in other words-- to survive in the "twin" world into which I was cast and which I could not explain. My life experience, then, was of a chrysalis, a puzzle, and another, twin Earth!

As for the chrysalis part of my experience, in a real way, my father's death created a mystery and problem for me that can best be portrayed by the process of metamorphosis. That is the term used to describe the making over of a caterpillar into a butterfly, two very different creatures when you consider what they look like and what they do. One crawls, the other flies. One eats leaves, the other sips flower nectar. One is a bulging, many-legged worm, the other is a beautiful, winged insect. They couldn't possibly be related, yet they are--intimately! You cannot, in fact, have a butterfly without there first being a caterpillar! And it is the terrible process of transformation that goes on with the caterpillar that turns it, ultimately, into the butterfly. It is, surely, one of the most astounding processes in the natural world, precisely because it more than any other process points directly to supernatural reality and meaning.

There is the famous story of the great English biologist Alfred Russell Wallace. Now this story has many variants, as you may know. But variously put, they are all pointing out a valid, universal truth. In this particular version of the story he was observing an Emperor butterfly emerging from its chrysalis. It was moving about inside its prison, struggling with all its feeble might to get free, but seemingly it wasn't going to make it out unaided. Pitying the struggling creature and thinking to help the process along, he slit the chrysalis open with his knife. Did a beautiful new butterfly flit out and spread its wings in the glorious sunshine? No! On the contrary, what happened was horrible to behold. The butterfly emerged but grew ever weaker and perished right before his eyes! Wallace concluded that the butterfly's painful struggle out of the prison-house of the chrysalis was essential to give it the vital strength it needed to survive. So too with human beings (and to my own life experience starting when I was five years old, suddenly pulled out of Kindergarten class and told by my mother in the family car that my dad had crashed in his plane and died!). The darkness and the painful struggle that disasters bring to us are sometimes absolutely necessary to bring forth new life and a meaning to complex tangles of events and circumstances.

A very great statesman of Britain knew this fact of life. He said, "Out of intense complexities intense simplicities emerge." That man was Winston Churchill, who rallied his British people and nation to stand up alone against the seemingly unconquerable might of Hitler and Nazi Germany.



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