Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Influences Inside and Out; Crippling and Killing

Watching a butterfly emerge from its chrysalis is an amazing experience. Sometimes the butterfly emerges crippled or never emerges. After years of raising butterflies, we have learned why some of these problems happen.

There are several reasons:
1. An outside influence damages the chrysalis
    a. A twig or stem is touching it as it pupates and deforms the chrysalis
    b. A predator kills it before it emerges
    c. Weather conditions causes it to dehydrate, cook, freeze, or drown
2. An inside influence causes problems
    a. Disease cripples or kills the butterfly in the chrysalis
    b. Parasitoids eat the guts of the chrysalis
    c. It didn't eat enough as a caterpillar and does not have enough strength to complete its metamorphosis and emerge

In some cases, someone closely watching the caterpillar or chrysalis could save it from crippling and/or death.
1a. When the caterpillar hangs in a J, leaves and twigs around the caterpillar can be trimmed if they are too close
1b. The caterpillar or chrysalis can be covered in a sleeve to protect it from predators
1c. The chrysalis can be moved to a safe territory if weather is threatening it with unsafe butterfly conditions
2a. In nature nothing can be done; in a farm situation, eggs can be sanitized to kill disease particles
2b. A sleeve can be used to protect the caterpillar or soft chrysalis from parasitoids
2c. If the caterpillar has run out of host plant, additional plants can be brought to the caterpillar or the caterpillar taken to other host plants

As I watch these sad happenings again and again, I'm reminded of the dangers to which we are exposed as we live day to day, preparing for the time when we will emerge into eternity with God. There are negative influences on human souls also, from within and from without.

From the outside, people often damage us. Sometimes the damage is intentional; sometimes the damage is unintentional. Unlike caterpillars and chrysalises, in many instances we can choose who/what we are around.

We have God watching out for us. This doesn't mean that we won't be hurt. But God will preserve us through it. David didn't write that God kept him FROM the "valley of the shadow of death". He wrote that when he was walking "through the valley of the shadow of death" that God was WITH him.

People can't be inside us, helping us in our fight. But no matter, inside our inner beings, we are not alone with our carnal selves, our negative thoughts, and our negative motives. Jesus, our Father, and the Holy Spirit live within us.

What can help us is prayer. God is there. When I prayed in years past, I always prayed to the God in heaven, the God above. My thoughts went upward to the one who has all power and created all things. As I face things that are outside of me that threaten to cripple me spiritually, I still pray to the God above who has power to move things around me and influence things around me.
And I pray about things inside me that threaten to cripple me. Pride, judgmental attitude, and many other 'parasitoids' try to take control of my inner self.
One day I prayed a bit different. I didn't pray to the God above. I prayed to the God within me. I focused my thoughts inward, inside my very being. Not to me but to God within me.
What a difference! Although I always knew that God is inside me, it brought the realization home in a new way. God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are INSIDE me where those 'parasitoids' are struggling to devour me. God is inside me working his work and protecting me. We're a 'team' inside me. I am NOT alone inside me. He is there to strengthen me in my fight and/or to fight the battle for and with me.
It's a concept that I find difficult to explain; praying to God within me. But is has been a blessing and strength for me, this 'new' direction of my prayers when I need help with what is inside me.

Think of it this way: there is a fire in a yard and someone inside a house is calling out to a person outside to put out the fire. That is the way I pray when the enemy is outside of me. When the enemy is inside of me, it is comparable to a house with the kitchen on fire and the person inside the house is asking a very capable person inside the house to put out the fire.

It's something I've always known, that God is inside me. But somehow praying with my thoughts focused on God who is dwelling inside of me instead of toward God in heaven has helped me in new ways.
Romans 8:7-11

"... the mind of the flesh [with its carnal thoughts and purposes] is hostile to God, for it does not submit itself to God's Law; indeed it cannot.
8So then those who are living the life of the flesh [catering to the appetites and impulses of their carnal nature] cannot please or satisfy God, or be acceptable to Him.
9But you are not living the life of the flesh, you are living the life of the Spirit, if the Spirit of God dwells within you [directs and controls you]. But if anyone does not possess the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His C)
10But if Christ lives in you, [then although] your [natural] body is dead by reason of sin and guilt, the spirit is alive because of righteousness [that He imputes to you].
11And if the Spirit of Him Who raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He Who raised up Christ Jesus from the dead will also restore to life your mortal bodies through His Spirit Who dwells in you."