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The caterpillar that spoke to my soul

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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The deck overlooking the Chattahoochee River at the Saint Ignatious House Jesuit Retreat just outside of Atlanta (Credit: Jim Denison)

I am in Atlanta today, speaking this afternoon at the memorial service for a very dear friend. I spent the morning at Ignatius House, a Jesuit retreat center on the Chattahoochee River. This place has meant a great deal to me over the years–I visit whenever I am in the city.

The railing pictured overlooks the river, just down from the lodge and chapel. It was here that the Lord used a caterpillar to speak to my soul many years ago. Visiting this deck again today, I realized that I need its truth now as much as I did then.

It was August of 1998. Our family had just moved to Dallas, where I had begun serving as pastor of Park Cities Baptist Church. I was back in Atlanta to conduct a wedding for the daughter of my best friend in the city. I returned to Ignatius House on the morning of the wedding to spend some time with the Father.

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{/source}There was great unrest in my spirit. Janet and I knew we had been called to Dallas, but the move made no sense to us. We loved the beautiful city of Atlanta and our church here. God had been moving in remarkable ways. I did not know his plans for us in Dallas and was perplexed about the future.

As I sat on this deck and prayed about this issue, my attention was drawn to a caterpillar crawling along the wooden rail. I sensed the Spirit speaking to me in my thoughts: this insect has no idea that we call him (her? it?) a “caterpillar.” He doesn’t know that he is crawling along the deck of a place called Ignatius House. He doesn’t know that I could swat him with my shoe if I wished. All he knows is that he needs to crawl along this railing today. If he will do what he is made to do, everything else will take care of itself.

I sensed the Lord saying the same to me: crawl along the railing where I have placed you and trust the rest to my perfect will. If I will seek first his kingdom and righteousness, everything else will be added to me (Matthew 6:33). Just do what I was made to do and trust my Maker.

I still need that reminder today. I still want a five-year plan when his will is for this day. I still worry about tomorrow when he supplies all my needs today (Philippians 4:19).

Do you need this reminder as much as I do?  Has a caterpillar spoken to your soul today?