Category Archives: God sightings

When God Is Silent, Look for Yellow Butterflies

I’ve received many messages about this essay since I posted it almost a decade ago. It seems I’m not the only one who has experienced God’s gift of yellow butterflies. Easter is the perfect time to share it again. May you be blessed and find everlasting life with Jesus, our Savior.

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mWyqLOUI’ve read about people who accepted the Lord and were instantly saved from catastrophic illness or from a life of sin or from debt. My Christian journey didn’t begin that way. It happened slowly. God led me through baby steps and taught me to listen patiently and with all of my senses.

The first time I heard God’s voice in my heart, on the day I was saved in 1984, I thought it would always be easy to know His will. I thought I could ask Him what I should do and He would immediately tell me. Instead, I found that often He is silent. In the weeks and months following my salvation, I cried out endlessly to Him—but He said nothing. I vowed that I wouldn’t give up hope. Having heard His voice once in my inner self was enough for me to believe that God was real. Surely it wasn’t coincidence that He made the sun shine, just as He said it would, as I stood on the bluff that dreary day when He saved me. These things alone were enough to keep me believing. I decided that if I searched hard enough, I would find the golden secret to hearing His voice whenever I wished.

I bought books about prayer, and I read them as quickly as I could. I read the bible, something I hadn’t done for years. I concentrated on what Jesus taught about prayer. I did everything I could think of to please God, and yet He remained silent. Finally, in desperation, I went back to the bluff. I sat there on the grass looking out at Lake Michigan waiting for something miraculous to happen. Then, completely frustrated and at the edge of doubt, I said, “Okay, God. If you’re not going to talk to me then maybe I was right—maybe I’m just not worth it.”

imgThat thought had only formed inside my head when a small, yellow butterfly landed on my knee. I whisked it away, got up, and walked. As I walked it flew alongside me. At first I thought it was a coincidence. Then it became strange. If I changed direction, so did the butterfly. If I walked faster, she stayed with me. Then, after a few minutes, the most incredible thing happened. A dozen yellow butterflies joined the first. They fluttered about, seemingly interested in nothing but me. At that moment God whispered five simple words in my heart,

“I am with you always.”

For the rest of that summer, yellow butterflies became a symbol of His love. I saw them everywhere: on stationery, greeting cards, posters, and in newspaper ads. They flew in front of my car, and they fluttered outside my windows. But the most remarkable butterfly sighting was yet to come.

I sensed God telling me that it was time to move on. The apartment building I lived in was going condo, and I could choose buying my unit or finding another place to live. God said, “Go.”

I worked with a realtor, but nothing I saw was right—too big, too small, too expensive, too far away. Then, one afternoon, she called to say that she found the perfect house in a neighborhood near my apartment building, one I was familiar with. I knew  I couldn’t afford a house there. “Just check it out,” she said. “It feels right.”

The house was in a subdivision of solid, brick homes with tidy yards and flower gardens on quiet, tree-lined streets. I found the address and parked out front. Everything about the house was perfect—the cream-colored brick, the landscaping, the quaint wooden shutters. I can’t afford this, I thought. But then I saw it—  a yellow butterfly! She was the centerpiece of a large stained-glass sun catcher hanging in the front window. She was big and bold with outstretched wings. “Okay, Lord,” I said. “Show me the way.”

The house was more than I could afford, but I placed a bid anyway. It was rejected. I placed a second bid, and that one was rejected, too. I was ready to give up until, on the very morning I’d planned to call my realtor to tell her to forget it, the Wisconsin State Government issued low-interest financing for first-time homebuyers. I qualified, and my third bid was accepted. That was thirty-three years ago, and I still live in the house God chose for me.

The butterfly sightings have decreased through the years, but once in a while God will send a yellow butterfly in an unlikely time or place as a gentle reminder that He is with me. The butterflies teach me that often our Lord speaks without words.

7c476ebe7f4314619729b20b0069b652Just as in Biblical times there are signs and wonders today, but in our hectic world with all of the noise and confusion, it’s difficult to recognize them. We must be quiet and look for them, and we have to trust God to help us see them. Often they are small and draw little attention. God doesn’t shout to us, “Look!” Instead, He remains silent wanting us to explore beyond His words. He might speak in the wind or in the autumn leaves or in the moonlight. He might speak through a rainbow or a gentle spring shower or through a sleeping kitten nestled in a lap. When God is silent, it doesn’t mean that He’s left us. He’s just asking us to be patient and quiet. He’s asking us to look deeper into His creation to discover the miracles that He sends us every day.

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Filed under Desiring God, Easter, God sightings, Knowing God, Listening to God, Salvation, Uncategorized, Yellow Butterflies

Remedy for a Cold, Winter Day

BA-23429-2The holidays melt into memories now. Gray winter sets in, bleak. Hearts harden in freezing, slip-sliding days, and December’s benevolent attitude bends selfish.

Yes, it’s January.

Skies are gray, tempers flare on icy, snow-covered roads, and attitudes aren’t always good. But God sees, and He understands. We’re human, after all, and we humans are prone to grumbling—especially at winter’s sting.

This past week has been brutal through much of the country with wind chills dipping to the single digits and below. We’re cold. But, as Christians, we need to watch that our hearts don’t turn cold toward God and others. We need to remember that He is in the dead of winter.

Author, Shirley Ann Grau puts it this way:

“. . .winter is a kind of evangelist,

more subtle than Billy Graham, of course,

but of the same stuff.”

Winter, especially January, is the best time to search for God in unlikely places.

Try this. Use your senses this week to search for Him.

Tree Enduring Cold WinterGo outside. Listen to the shapes the sounds make. Can you hear God?

Smell the brisk, clean air. Does it make you think of a world without sin?

Look at the trees standing tall and bare. Do you see how patiently they wait for God to renew them?

Feel the warmth of your thick winter coat, your hat, scarf, boots and gloves. Are you grateful for God’s provisions?

Now, go inside. Brew a cup of something hot. Spice it with love. Stir it with care. Savor it someplace quiet,

and have a nice, long talk with the Lord.

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“My soul, begin this wintry month with God. The cold snows and the piercing winds all remind you that He keeps His covenant with day and night and serve to assure you that He will also keep that glorious covenant that He has made with you in the person of Christ Jesus.”

—C.H. Spurgeon

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Gear Up for God Sightings in 2015

© Copyright 2014 CorbisCorporationHere we are at the beginning of another new year. We don’t know what 2015 will bring, but we can count on this: God is with us, and He will guide us through this year with His infinite wisdom and love.

Last summer, I spent a week with a group of volunteers from Group Workcamps. One of the activities that week was to look for God sightings—those little ways that God reminds us that He is there.

We learned that God sightings are sometimes obvious, like a near-miss traffic accident when you let out a big sigh and whisper, “Thank You, Lord.” But more often, God sightings are so veiled in worldly things that you might miss them.

Have you ever been on a commuter train racing in one direction when another train passes going the opposite way? That other train is gone in a flash. But you know that you saw it; it was really there. God sightings can be like that. You have to keep your eyes open and your mind fixed on seeing them; otherwise they can pass by unnoticed.

Last month, I challenged you to perform secret random acts of kindness every day through Advent. This month, I challenge you again:

Beginning today and continuing until the end of this year, focus on God sightings and write them down. As the months go by and your list grows longer, think about how keeping that list is changing you.

God_sightingsGod sightings are never accidental. God designs them to impact your life in ways big and small. He speaks to you through them, makes you aware of His presence, teaches, and even reprimands.

 A God sighting can change your life.

So, keep your eyes open in 2015. Write down those God sightings, and see how God uses them to direct your paths.

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Filed under Desiring God, God sightings, Knowing God