Butterflies of Hope: I Am With You Always, My Child

As I walked a nature trail towards the beginning of summer, memory triggers swept through my heart and left me desolate, alone, and afraid. Help me, God! I’m sinking fast!

Lift your eyes and look around you, My child.

I tried so hard to see His love and care in His creation around me, but still those memories of past pain and betrayal kept sucking the life out of my soul.

I sat down on a bench, tears ready to gush forth, my soul pleading for strength and comfort. My eyes lifted and my heart gasped with wonder. A butterfly flew in front of me along with God’s whisper – I am with you always, My child. Then another one flew by as if to confirm God’s promise.

As I walked back to my van, my heart was still heavy with grief from the past, but a hope arose in my soul that God would again get me through this tough spot.

God graciously continued to send me reminders throughout the summer. When my heart was despondent as I drove home from the doctor, one flew a couple of feet in front of the windshield. As I reclined in my chair, feeling sick and drained of energy, one fluttered past the window. And many other times, as one flew by, I had to smile as a calmness seeped into my soul.

One day I told some of my grandkids how when I see a butterfly it’s like God is whispering to me – I am with you always, My child.

“Boy, Grandma, He must have really been yelling it then when we went to the butterfly house!” Lexi said.

One of my counted blessings this summer was when one of my granddaughters, Lexi, asked me to go to the butterfly house with her. 🙂

Some butterflies had broken wings. God helps the broken to fly! 🙂

Butterflies convey God’s message of hope to me, and I’m awed how often He sent them to me this summer. But I’m trying to remember His promise isn’t any less true when the butterflies don’t come.

“And be sure of this:
I am with you always,
even to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:20b

The promise of God being with us doesn’t come and go like a butterfly. He has promised He will be with us, and He will be, whether or not we can feel it.

Yes, it can be so hard to grasp and hold onto the promise of God’s faithfulness with our weak and shaky hands. But it’s a comfort that even when we can’t hold on, He won’t let us go. He will hold us up with His victorious right hand!

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with My victorious right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10 NLT

“Faithful”
by Sarah Reeves

“Even when I cannot see, You are moving
Even when I cannot hear, You are singing over me
Even when I can’t hold on, You won’t let me go
You are faithful, You are faithful

Hallelujah
My soul will sing
Hallelujah
You are good to me
You are faithful, always faithful…”

Winter: In Nature and In Our Souls

A winter blizzard walloped us with 13+ inches of snow on the 14th. This was in addition to 12+ inches we already received this month. Then on the 18th, another 6+ inches. Will spring ever come?

I admit I’m as winter weary as this donkey…


I try to focus on the beauty in it though. Such unique patterns, both in the snow and in frost on the windows. No one but our powerful God can do that!

I’m also awed by the untrodden pureness of the snow, and sometimes it stirs up a longing desire:

“Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.”
Psalm 51:7

In the freezing temperatures of this prolonged winter, God reminded me of His tender care over the birds. It’s amazing how He has equipped them. They fluff their feathers to trap heat. This slows their metabolism so they can conserve energy necessary to survive.

And just think, God counts us even more valuable than them! (Matthew 10:29-31)

On the morning after the blizzard, I was looking out our office window at all the snow. My heart sighed. Then a house finch flew in and perched on our dwarf globe evergreen. Even though he couldn’t see me through our tinted windows, it seemed he looked directly at me like he was saying, “Don’t lose heart. Spring will come.” Thank You, God, for the hope You breathed into my weary soul!

His mate perched on the nest box like she wasn’t ready to give up either. They had started building a nest in it, but it filled up with snow. That snow has melted, so hopefully they will build again.

As in the winter in nature, so also God has a purpose in the winters we experience in our spiritual lives. When one of life’s storms rips away someone or something we treasure and devastates our hearts and lives, we may feel forsaken by God.

When C.S. Lewis lost his wife, he slipped into depression. He wondered where God was in his suffering and grief. In one of his publications, A Grief Observed, he described what it was like. “But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is in vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside.”

That can be what it feels like, can’t it? But God taught him a valuable lesson because of this winter of the soul. “My idea of God is a not divine idea. It has to be shattered from time to time. He shatters it Himself. He is the great iconoclast. Could we not almost say that this shattering is one of the marks of His presence?”

We so easily trust in our own strength, and our perceptions about God can be far less than who He really is. When He does His work in us to bring us to the right place, it truly is a mark of His loving presence, even if we can’t “feel” it.

The winters of the soul strengthen our relationship with God. In nature, trees are dormant. They appear dead, but below the frozen ground, their roots are stretching and strengthening, actually fortifying the well-being of the tree. In the same way, we need to be rooted more firmly in Jesus. Our souls may feel dead and barren, but God is growing our roots stronger.

I have to admit after I wrote this, I feel better about winter. 🙂 But I still long for spring and all its new life! It’s coming!

“For just as rain and snow fall from heaven
and do not return there
without saturating the earth
and making it germinate and sprout,
and providing seed to sow
and food to eat,
so My word that comes from My mouth
will not return to Me empty,
but it will accomplish what I please
and will prosper in what I send it to do.

Isaiah 55:10-11
If I go east, He is not there,
and if I go west, I cannot perceive Him.
When He is at work to the north, I cannot see Him;
when He turns south, I cannot find Him.
Yet He knows the way I have taken;
when He has tested me, I will emerge as pure gold.

Job 23:8-10
“And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord,
you must continue to follow him.
Let your roots grow down into him,
and let your lives be built on him.
Then your faith will grow strong
in the truth you were taught,
and you will overflow with thankfulness.”
Colossians 2:6-7

“Seasons”
by Hillsong Worship

“Like the frost on a rose
Winter comes for us all
Oh how nature acquaints us
With the nature of patience
Like a seed in the snow
I’ve been buried to grow
For Your promise is loyal
From seed to sequoia…”

 

You Are Not Alone

Has your heart, life, and voice been devastated by abuse? Is your pain even deeper because of lack of affirmation and support? Do you feel alone and afraid?

I have mentioned before that I was sexually and spiritually abused by a pastor. I have shared with you somewhat of how it affects me, how it is a lifetime of healing, and how those memory triggers can still knock me down at times.

What I haven’t said much about is how heartbreaking it is when churches still do not support victims. How they can re-victimize hurting souls by speaking up for or excusing the perpetrators. How they ignore their pain and guilt them into silence.

I wasn’t supported by the church leadership, and many Christian “friends” left me when I told the truth. Many times I felt so alone and not understood. I’m so sad that it’s still happening.

I know there are some churches and individuals who are speaking up for the victims. Who pray and work hard to change attitudes. Who learn how best to support these hurting souls. I thank God for them.

And I thank God that He led me to caring and competent counselors who helped me work through a lot. He also gave me some family and friends who believe me, support me, and understand me. I thank God for each and every one.

Above all, I thank Him that He has never left me, even when it often felt like it. When I thought He didn’t care at all about me. When the darkness consumed me.

It has been a long, difficult journey of over 40 years to healing and learning God is safe and always has honorable intentions towards me. I’m still a work-in-progress as He keeps healing deeper layers of pain, betrayal, and shattered trust.

Through the years He has strengthened my belief in the truth that we can always fully depend on Him. He is always working for our good even when we can’t “feel” Him. He remains faithful no matter what.

Jesus cries with us. He totally empathizes with us. He has been ravaged beyond anything we can imagine. His suffering was deeper than anything any of us has ever experienced. He knows what it’s like to be totally alone and forsaken.

He is the ONE who cares about us more than anyone ever will. He will never abandon us. He will always understand and support us, and He will heal us ever more deeply. He stretches His arms wide and invites us into His arms of love. He provides the safety, the support, and the healing no one on earth can.

Then Jesus said, “Come to Me,
all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens,
and I will give you rest.”
Matthew 11:28

“For I will restore health to you
And I will heal your wounds, says the Lord,
Because they have called you an outcast, saying:
‘This is Zion; no one seeks her and no one cares for her.'”
Jeremiah 30:17

“The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,
a refuge in times of trouble.
Those who know Your name trust in You
because You have not abandoned
those who seek You, Yahweh.”
Psalm 9:9-10


“I Am Not Alone”
by Kari Jobe