This week has been something entirely and I just feel the weight of confusion on my shoulders. I am going to be honest and say that the bricks I need to surrender aren’t budging, but one brick in particular keeps pressing on my heart.
In July, God brought me 8,000 miles away from home to the place where I left my heart: Bantayan and Cebu City, Philippines.
I could not formulate enough words to explain to you my experience during this two week period but honestly, that is not the point of this post. You can stay tuned for more posts, as I plan to write about it soon, but on to my point.
I am writing to tell you the story of the butterfly, because I have been thinking for awhile that many people who read my blog have no idea why that in particular is my symbol. I want to uncover the mystery behind the butterfly as it became a rather large part of my life story last September; God speaks to me in butterflies, so here is my story.
It’s summer of 2015; I am grasping every single moment as typical high school student does after a long school year full of trials, but instead of thinking about how tan I look, I am thinking about God’s purpose for my life. I have always been a pretty ordinary person, in my opinion. I just live my life for the Lord, study, read books, and write; however, in the Bible, God always chooses the ordinary for extraordinary journeys.
For a few months prior to summer unfolding, I found God lit a flame, small and flickering inside of my heart; this flame warmed my interest to go mission trip the proceeding summer, but the flame did not alight a fire, at least not yet. One of my best friends, Savannah Peloquin felt the same flame I did. I owe a lot of this journey to her, because by our friendship we have walked with God together and seen all He is. As God moved me through the remainder of the summer, I prayed asking that He may guide me in making my decision. Savannah and I walked on.
But do you know what it feels like when you relentlessly ask God to show you the way, but it feels like there is a disconnect on the other end of the line?
This is what my life felt like from June to September of that year.
All I could hear on the other end of the line was static; God’s voice was completely muddled and fuzzy as I stood confused and waited for Him to give me clarity.
It was a long wait.
Vertical Reality came in September of that year as it always does. I didn’t expect much out of this weekend as I found going into events with expectations leaves God no room to do His work in your heart, because you become so fixated on fulfilling those expectations that you miss everything God saying. I didn’t want for this to happen as I was desperate to hear God’s voice, so when hopping on the bus that Friday night, my heart was open wide. With Savannah by my side, I was ready to receive what God had for me and to hear His voice, if that was even a part of His will for this weekend.
My arms were open wide, nevertheless. I found peace in knowing I was surrounded by people who loved me, no matter how far from God I truly felt or how irritated I was that I heard static in my ears 24/7. I prayed for all this weekend could bring and it’s safe to say that God could have never prepared my heart for what was ahead; Vertical Reality twenty-fifteen began the static cutting between God’s line and my line.
It was Saturday afternoon and Savannah and I were enjoying freetime by hiking up Sharptop Mountain aka the hardest hike I have ever done -- and I am an avid hiker. The air was crisp and cool as the autumn leaves fell around us; our conversation was rich and our words deep as we made the ascent upwards. Deep in conversation about the influence Christians have, we were interrupted when a yellow butterfly soared above our heads.
“Savannah, did you see that?”
She nodded and we kept on trucking up the rocks.
Neither of us made a big deal about it and jumped right back into our conversation yet again.
Fast forward twenty minutes and another butterfly soars above our heads. All we could do was look at each other; I could tell she was thinking.
Once we got to the top of the mountain, the sweat beads were evident on our faces, and our bodies felt as though they could cave. We sat down on some rocks at the top, looking out at the endless rolling hills.
Another butterfly flew past my face.
This sequence continued throughout the weekend; the butterflies soared around us as we went into sessions, sat outside for small group, enjoyed quiet time praying, and had deep conversations at night. We saw them everywhere.
I didn’t want to make a big deal about the fact that butterflies were soaring around us, but I couldn’t help it. My mind wandered as I began to hear less static in my ears.
It’s funny to be able to say now that Savannah felt the exact same way.
As we departed from Sharptop Cove that weekend, I had this feeling nagging at me as if God was saying through the remaining static, “this isn’t over yet.”
Returning to school that Monday, I felt confident; I finally felt like God was on the other end of the line as I walked through my day.
I continued to pray and Savannah did, too; we continued to wait, joined together.
A few weeks passed from Vertical Reality.
Savannah was in France and I was here in Georgia.
One evening in late October, I was in the library studying and doing my homework.
While studying, my nose begins to run, because it’s that season. Quietly, I get out of my seat for the first time since sitting down and walk towards the circulation desk to grab a tissue. As I pick up the box, I notice it is yellow and in the left corner, a butterfly. I unobtrusively walk back to my table and send Savannah a text message.
Savannah replies from France a picture of the Metro. There are butterflies painted all over it.
During her entire trip, butterflies followed her.
While I was home, I saw them everywhere. They were on tissue boxes, tee-shirts, sleeping bags, umbrellas, pictures, books. You name it, I saw it with butterflies on it. Savannah did, too.
Close out September and by this time, we knew God was leading us towards something outside of ourselves. By this time, I decided I wanted to go to the Philippines.
November came and soon mission trip applications would open, but first I had to tell my parents I wanted to leave their sight for two weeks and travel eight thousand miles away from home.
I knew they wouldn’t be thrilled. Weeks of convincing ensued. I persistently prayed for their hearts. I finally got them to the meeting even though I knew they were still hesitant. The meeting went well as they informed us of all the necessary information for applications to be completed. I left the meeting with Savannah and we were overjoyed.
Butterflies continually showed up in Savannah’s and my life after this meeting.
We knew without a doubt God was leading us to the Philippines.
Applications opened a week after the meeting. We stayed up that night until 12:30 that morning attentively filling out the application, not missing a single detail, answering the toughest questions they could’ve thought to ask us.
And for a month and a half, we waited as the butterflies continued to show up.
During my quiet time with God in early December, I sat with the anxious energy inside of my veins. I longed to know if I would be departing for the Philippines in a few short months. Hebrews is one of my favorite books in the Bible and while reading it on this evening, I came across a verse that further confirmed God was stirring my heart and cutting the static. Paul so elegantly and directly writes:
It’s crucial that we keep a firm grip on what we’ve heard so that we don’t drift off. If the old message delivered by the angels was valid and nobody got away with anything, do you think we can risk neglecting this latest message, this magnificent salvation? First of all, it was delivered in person by the Master, then accurately passed on to us by those who heard it from him. All the while God was validating it with gifts through the Holy Spirit, all sorts of signs and miracles, as he saw fit.
Hebrews 2:1-4 (MSG)
In this moment, I realized that God is speaking to us every single day. Even if you cannot hear Him as clear as you would desire, He truly is there. In His timing, as Paul says, He will reveal the will He possesses for your life, just as He did for mine; it turns out this took me on a journey eight thousand miles out. Through the butterflies, He called me deeper than my feet could have ever wandered, and I metamorphosed into a completely different person; the colors I burst into are evident daily. My decision to morph upon His call has change who I am forever.
So, is He calling you to morph?
Is God trying to speak to you through a sign or symbol as Paul writes? Is He calling you for a change in your position, outlook, location, or mindset? Or are you just hearing static? Trust me, I know how confusing life gets when all you hear is static. It’s an irritation that is hard to forget, but you have to hold on nevertheless. God will reveal himself in whatever way He sees fit.
But on the other side of this, I have found that morphing is a choice, not a necessity. If God calls you and you choose to pick up, that’s the choice you made. If when you pick up, He asks you to morph and move in a different direction, you can choose if you will listen or not. It’s completely up to you, but I can guarantee you that if you decide to listen to His call, even if it is the last thing you would ever want to do, it may change your entire life.
So, again we find ourselves at the weekly challenge and I challenge you to be still this week.
I am accepting my own challenge as well; I need to be still and wait for Him at this season in my life, too.
I have found when you always rustle about, making a lot of noise, you cannot hear God clearly. You must be quiet and still, because as I have said, God is not an obtrusive God.
He isn’t going to stomp and cancel your noise by making His own.
He is just going to patiently wait for you to pay attention to Him, but He’s calling.
Stay tuned in. Be alert and when the time comes, accept the call to morph.
Can you envision a season of green pastures, wandering by still, flowing waters, and feeling completely restored within your soul? While this sounds perfect, it does not just happen by chance. God says to encounter this place, we have to get quiet.
The New Year is here and while that is a blessing, sometimes it can be trying on our faith. We want God to work within our timing and when He doesn’t, it can feel like our New Year is backwards and becoming Yew Near. But we must not assume God is up to malice because He is not working within our timing.