Category Archives: Salvation

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

The Story of Jesus—God’s Parable

A parable is an earthly story used to teach some heavenly meaning. If you think about it, you’ll discover that Jesus’ whole life is a parable given to us by God.

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God’s parable is a story about a god—the one and only God—sending a part of Himself to earth in a child’s body. The child, known as Jesus, God’s Son, grew up the personification of God, possessing all of His power, love, and wisdom. This part of God, the man Jesus, became an earthly example of a godly life. Then, God allowed Jesus, this part of Himself, to experience every imaginable sin that we humans can commit past, present, and future. God allowed Jesus’ body to be crucified and suffer excruciating pain until, finally, the body died. BUT, the parable doesn’t end there. God, our eternal God in the form of His Son, Jesus, did not die. HE LIVED. Jesus’ body arose from the grave and He ascended into heaven.

There are many lessons in God’s parable, but the most important is this: there is no place for sin in heaven. To claim our place there, we must believe that God loves us so much that He sacrificed Himself to guarantee us eternal life in heaven when our bodies die.

9c6573dfff65de3d68075359d135df31What did sacrifice mean in Jesus’ time?
God commanded His people to perform numerous animal sacrifices according to certain procedures prescribed by Him. Instead of humans suffering eternal death for their own sins, God was willing to accept a substitute.

First, the animal had to be spotless.

Second, the person offering the sacrifice had to need the animal—remember animals were the most important commodity providing food, clothing, and wealth in trade.

Third, the person offering the animal had to kill it. When done in faith, this sacrifice provided a temporary covering of sins.

Sacrifices had to be done multiple times to keep cleansing sin so God’s people might one day have eternal life in heaven.

BUT, THEN:

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Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice, the ETERNAL covering of sin, the ONLY way for souls to be guaranteed sin-free when bodies die. God didn’t have to sacrifice Himself multiple times to free us from sin, but only once.

Jesus told us the meaning of God’s parable:

For God so loved the world
that he gave 
his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him
shall not perish but have eternal life.”

(Read the rest of what Jesus said in John 3: 1–21.)

If you are a believer, praise God! If you are a non-believer, think about God’s parable and then decide.

Will you believe?
What do you have to lose?

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Filed under Easter, Good Friday, Salvation, Sin, Uncategorized

Shingles

This was one of those mornings, the kind where you lay in bed hearing strange sounds and you wonder if you’re awake or dreaming.

Hispanic music blares from the clouds, then voices.

“Hola!”

“Que tal?”

Hello!

How’s it going?

A vague recollection from high school Spanish, and the rest is gibberish. Men holler back and forth in Spanish from somewhere above me. Am I sleeping? Am I dead? Maybe I’d landed wrongly in heaven far from my family. “Excuse me, God, but this might as well be the Tower of Babel. Please open my ears to understand, or replant me with my English ancestors, even the German ones, I can understand some German.”

In my brain fog, hammers thump and something makes loud scraping sounds. Then a deep, male voice shouts in English. “Lots of bird doo-doo!” (Only he didn’t say “doo-doo.”)

I opened my eyes. My cat lay next to me on the bed. I stroked his fur. Yup, he was real all right, and so were those sounds. I dragged myself, half asleep, to the window.

There it was. Mystery solved. My neighbors were having their roof re-shingled. Several tan, sweaty, shirtless men stood on top, scraping and shoveling the old shingles right down to the bare wood.

If you think about it, God does that, too. He peels off worn layers of a person’s character and replaces them with something better. When God peels back all the layers and gets down to bare wood, it’s called being “born again.” He gets right to the heart of things, literally, by giving a person a new heart, a new character, one in which Christ is at the center of everything.

Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

A new roof is a good thing. It protects us from foul weather. But a new heart, a heart for Jesus, that’s a wonderful thing, and it’s all the protection we need.

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Filed under God's greatness, God's Love, God's provision, Salvation, Uncategorized