As the season changes from summer to fall we are not the only ones who are changing our wardrobes. Many species of birds are changing their feathers also--a process called molting. Feathers die and need to be replaced just like the hair on our heads. A feather follicle will not stimulate growth for a new feather until the old one has been removed. Extra energy is needed for a bird to generate new feathers so it naturally happens during the less stressful times of its life--before migrations or the mating season.
Feathers, like hair, are composed of a protein called keratin. A bird's daily activities such as preening, rubbing against plants and flying weaken the keratin. As the damage accumulates, the feathers’ aerodynamic and insulating characteristics are compromised. Thus the need for new feathers. When a juvenile bird grows into an adult it replaces its down feathers with adult plumage. There are some species of birds that change their feathers twice a year, putting on bright plumage during the mating season and "camouflaged" plumage for the migrating and winter season. Colorful male goldfinches, scarlet tanagers and indigo buntings, for example, replace their bright yellow, red and blue plumage with feathers in dull shades of yellow-brown and tan.
Those of us who enjoy bird watching can see the transformation that occurs with different species of birds during the change of season. Birds are not the only ones meant to "change their coats" with the change of season. The life of a Christian requires many changes and multiple transformations should occur during the life cycle of a Christian. The largest transformation we can observe is when a person is born into the family of God. God has a promise for everyone who sheds unbelief and replaces it with belief in Jesus. "Everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life." (John 3:15)
After salvation a Christian begins the process of sanctification. We must learn to think like Jesus thinks and do what Jesus would do. This means shedding old thought patterns and embracing new ones. 2 Corinthians 10:5 describes the process: "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." As we walk out the journey of Christianity it will mean that we must remove sin and replace it with righteous living. "...Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." (Hebrews 12:1)
Jesus taught His disciples about shedding pride so that humility would abound. "And He said: 'I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.'" (Matthew 18:3-4) When we are willing to shed the ways of the world to wait upon the Lord, He will impart renewed strength and the ability to soar on wings like eagles. (Isaiah 40:31)
The apostle Paul makes it clear that our time on earth is meant to transform us into the likeness of Christ. Our citizenship is in heaven, not earth. He says, "And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body." (Philippians 3:21) As we cooperate with Christ we are “being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory…” (2 Corinthians 3:18)
Joan E. Mathias