Metamorphosis – see beyond the spots

You think I’m going to talk about butterflies, don’t you? Not this time.  It’s time to bring to light one of the lesser-known, but just as amazing, examples of this biological phenomenon.  It’s one I’ve only recently become aware of thanks to a child in my son’s pre-school bringing me a black and orange creature resembling a tiny alligator.  He told me it would turn into a ladybird and, I have to say, I was sceptical.  I wasn’t familiar with the creature he showed me and I’d never heard of ladybirds coming out of cocoons.  But I investigated and it turns out…he was right!

Ladybirds (also known as ladybugs and lady beetles) lay their eggs in clusters on the bottom of leaves.  After a few days, the larvae emerge – this was the stage the child had shown me and it bears very little relation to an adult ladybird. They grow quickly and shed their skin several times until they’re full sized.  At that point, they attach themselves to a leaf by their tail and form a ‘pupa’.  A week or two later, the pupa becomes an adult ladybird.    

Image: From left to right: Ladybird eggs, larva, pupa, and adult


.This was a new discovery for me.   And I have no idea why this is such a well-kept secret when the antics of caterpillars and butterflies are so well known.

Metamorphosis, whether of ladybirds, caterpillars/butterflies or even maggots/flies, is just one example of the many illustrations God has put into the natural world to show us His plans. 

Just as the ladybird changes from a larva to an adult, through a pupa, so we will be transformed from the perishable state we are currently in to the imperishable state promised.  Just as the larva bears little relation to the adult, so our current form is no match for our final body.  And just as the larva has to go through a pupa before it reaches maturity, so we enter the grave and are resurrected in an unrecognisable and beautiful ‘adulthood’.

Here is the message of the ladybird – that the grave doesn’t have to be the end, it can be just another stage in our development towards the perfect immortal state that God has in mind.

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power;  it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body…For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.  When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory”. (1 Corinthians 15 v 42-44 and 52-54 NIV)

Of course, there is another aspect to metamorphosis; it’s not just about the future.  The process of transformation begins now. In fact, the word ‘metamorphosis’ is used in the Bible to describe that process (in its original Greek):

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed (Greek: metamorphosed) by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12 v 1-2 (NIV)

Incidentally, I love the name of the final stage of metamorphosis.  It starts with the Embryonic stage (eggs), moves on to the Larval stage, then the Pupal stage and ends with the Imaginal stage (adult).   

So, next time you look at a ladybird, see beyond the spots to the hidden lessons.  Life is about how we can spiritually transform ourselves in the present so that, by God’s grace and power, we emerge to our final stage with a body and character beyond anything we can currently imagine.

By Miriam.

Thanks to National Geographic, and Wikipedia for the biology information that I have paraphrased