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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. God is all around us . . .how has He reached out to you?

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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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How Does Putting Up Christmas Lights Honor Jesus?

On this first Sunday of Advent, we look forward with hope to the coming of Christ. We focus not only on His birth all those years ago, but now, perhaps more than at any other time, we look with hope toward Jesus coming back.

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Isaiah gave us this prophecy about Jesus:

The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
—Isaiah 9:2

The world is darkened these days by the shadow of sin. The tragic remnants of evil are all around us. But we have hope! Jesus was born into the world, a “great light” to lead us out of sin’s darkness. He lit our way to heaven, and He is coming again. We trust that He is coming back soon to bring His light to the world.

ArticleSo, when you hang Christmas lights this holiday season, as you light up the darkness around you, do it to honor Jesus.

Do it in remembrance of Him because:

JESUS IS THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD!
and He is coming back soon:
Come, Lord Jesus! Come.
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An Advent Processional:

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God’s Gift—Freedom of Choice

imagesGod gave Adam and Eve a wonderful gift. He told them how to use it. Still, they chose not to follow His directions. Do you know what the gift was? Here’s a hint:

In Genesis 2:16 (NLV), God tells Adam:

You are free to eat from any tree of the garden.”

A few sentences later, another hint:

“God made every animal of the field and every bird of the sky. He brought them to the man to find out what he would call them. And whatever the man called a living thing, that was its name.” (vs. 19–20)

1371397Freedom to Choose 
That was God’s gift to Adam and Eve in those first days of human history. It came with one rule: “Do not eat from the tree of learning of good and bad. For the day you eat from it you will die for sure.” (Genesis 2:17) Instead of obeying God, Adam and Eve decided to obey a conniving serpent. They chose bad over good.

God had given them a beautiful life on Earth, a life just shy of heaven. He wanted only good things for His humans. One of those was freedom of choice. God set Adam and Eve free to make every choice, including whether or not to obey Him. He also warned them that choosing wrong had consequences.

Today, Freedom of Choice remains one of our greatest gifts. It’s not provided by nations. It’s a gift given by God. Each of us has the right to choose between what pleases God and what displeases Him—And just like Adam and Eve, every one of us is guilty of making bad choices.

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This leads to the issue of judging others. We might disagree with the choices others make, but too often we forget that God has given them the freedom to choose. We should react to an unsafe choice or a choice to harm someone, but in most circumstances when passing judgment on others we need to remember that their choices are between them and God.

Here are two questions to think about:

  • When judging the choices others make, do you support their freedom to choose?
  • Do you believe that supporting someone’s freedom to choose is the same as supporting his or her choices?

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