One of the things I love about teaching is that by teaching, I often learn something new about God for myself. A few years ago I was teaching Biology in a small Adventist school in Southern Germany. I had just attended a training session about integrating faith and learning and was eager to put some new ideas into practice. My next lesson in one class was going to focus on incomplete metamorphosis, using the example of the dragonfly. I asked myself what spiritual message I could integrate into that lesson for my students.
The complete metamorphosis of the butterfly would be easy to explain: The caterpillar stands for our life on earth, the pupa can be compared with death and the adult is a symbol for our new life in heaven after the resurrection. But what message was there in incomplete metamorphosis without a pupal stage?
I was puzzled and prayed, “God, please show me why you created the incomplete metamorphosis! I want to explain it to the students, but I don’t understand it!” Two days later I found the answer during my personal Bible study in the morning. As I read 1 Corinthians 15:51, the scales fell from my eyes: “Listen! I am telling you a mystery. We will not all die. But we will all be changed.” In German the word used here for “changed” means the same as “metamorphosed.” Finally I understood that if the pupa of butterflies and other insects can stand for death before the resurrection, the direct transition from larva to adult dragonflies can be used as an object lesson for the change of the living believers at Jesus’ second coming. How marvelous!
According to Ellen White in Child Guidance, nature and the Bible were Jesus’ textbooks on earth. They still explain and complement each other today. In God’s most important textbook – the Bible – we find Moses and Elijah as examples for the two different kinds of change that can take place before we can enter our heavenly destination. In God’s second textbook – nature – we can find examples for the same topic using butterflies and dragonflies. I was so excited about this new insight that I shared it with my students in the Biology lesson. It was one of the best lessons I ever held. In the end everyone could explain the difference between complete and incomplete metamorphosis and what it means for us.
As we teach, we have the opportunity not only to share new insights with our students, but also to discover new insights ourselves. I am curious how many mysteries in God’s textbooks I’ll be able to penetrate in the future – here on earth and in eternity.