Submission and Obedience


When I was growing up, all living things in nature fascinated me. Pre-DDT, the outdoors teemed with creatures of every description, so it was easy to find crawlers, flyers, swimmers, hoppers, chewers, biters---you name it. What a privileged time it was, something that does not exist anymore.

Among the special creatures and their life-cycles was the cecropia moth. Of course, moths fly at night, while butterflies flit in the sun's rays. The cecropia has a huge span of multi-colored wings that is a beauty to behold. Usually cecropias could be found near a bright light piercing the darkness of the night or maybe they clung to a tree branch during the day to rest. Their size made them easy to distinguish among the leaves.

But cecropia moths start as caterpillars that are special in their own right. Begun as tiny worms, they eat themselves to a voluminous size by the end of summer. Their skin is a beautiful shade of light blue-green that lies in segments from front to back of the worm. In the front are six pairs of grasping tiny feet, while the back quarters of the worm hold on to branches or twigs with five pairs of suction-cup feet that secure its position near their favorite meal of apple or maple leaves---or on whatever tree their mother laid her eggs.

To find a cecropia caterpillar, I had to find its large dark green droppings on the pavement or lawn beneath the tree branch where they were feeding, then look up. There hung a huge green worm chowing away on the meal before it. What made the caterpillar stand out so uniquely were the orange, yellow and blue spikes along its body. They are beautiful and distinguish the cecropia from all other caterpillars.

When I could reach one, I lifted it from its hold on a branch and put it into a Mason jar with a handful of leaves from the same tree on which it was feeding. I replenished its meal every day so it could continue to eat and grow. Toward the end of summer it had reached its limit, roughly four and a half inches long, and very plump. Then obligingly it spun its cocoon on a twig or popsicle sticks placed in the jar for that purpose.

The cocoon was light brown, silky in appearance and elongated, glued to its stick or twig very tightly. The jar and its precious contents were kept in a cool place all winter.

Inside the cocoon something miraculous took place as that beautiful caterpillar transformed to a moth with cashmere-soft rust and white-striped torso and feathery rust-colored antennae and legs. Its only purpose was to hatch, mate and then die. The female would lay 100 eggs before giving up the ghost.

When the time came to hatch, the moth ate a hole at the narrow end of the cocoon and squeezed through the small opening into the air of day. The moth's wings hung like crumpled blobs from its shoulders. Clinging to a branch or other support, the moth began shivering and working those blobs up and down. Slowly they began to expand and take shape until four strong wings developed that could lift and soar the stunning artwork of God's creation above the branches and into the night air.

One spring day when a cocoon was beginning to hatch, I felt sorry for the creature trying to push its way through the small constricting hole in the cocoon. I took a sharp scissors and carefully enlarged the hole's diameter. Out popped the moth, wings bedraggled. It crawled onto a branch to begin developing its wing span, but nothing happened. They remained nubs along the body of the moth. They never expanded. There was no lift power to begin a flight. The moth was hopelessly grounded! It would never fulfill its destiny.

What I leaned later is that the fight of the moth to squeeze through the tiny end of the cocoon is necessary to force fluid into the wings' circulation so they can grow and fully develop. By my enlarging the opening in the cocoon, the entire process was interrupted. The moth never soared!

Much later in my life as a nursing student, I learned that when infants are born, the tight passage through the birth canal forces amniotic fluid out of the baby's lungs so it can take its first breaths normally. A baby born by Caesarian section doesn't meet that resistance and pressure on its chest, so requires immediate suctioning and gravitational rotation to clear the lungs for breathing to happen without incidence.

God intends tough processes for a purpose. Survival through a tight spot allows life to blossom beyond it. Why, then, do we try to remove all the obstacles from children's lives? I hear parents say that they don't want their children to 'suffer' what they went through growing up, so they protect their own kids from facing difficult decisions and consequences for their misdeeds.

The Bible puts it this way:

"He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently.'" Proverbs 13:24.

Either through indulgence or neglect, many children today receive no discipline from their parents. They learn no restraint, they learn no obedience or submission to authority until as young adults, they are spoiled and not prepared at all to meet the rigors of daily life in today's world.

Parents and even school teachers think they're doing children a favor by not being disciplinarians. In fact, they do a great disservice to each child so untethered.

Years ago I had a friend whose parents NEVER built one rule into their family life. She and her siblings had to navigate life in a very unstructured environment. They ended up raising each other with the guidance of a supportive church they attended. Each of them turned out surprisingly well, but my friend said, "If only our parents would have said, 'No!' even once." But they didn't.

Parents, teachers, let your children force their own way out of their cocoons! Let them tread the waters of adversity with your help, but not by your pulling them out of the troubled water. Watch as them grow and mature, finally one day soaring on wings strengthened by going against the current of complacency to be strong adults!

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Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE ®
© Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission.
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