Hope Wins

Oh, God – I’m so afraid.monarch butterfly

During the sixth month of pregnancy, I finally ventured out of the bed where I spent the first five months – hoping, begging God to let me keep my baby. With years of infertility and two miscarriages in my medical chart – the chances for a normal birth were slim.

In June of that year, I waddled out to the back yard’s sunshine and stretched out in the chaise lounge. With my hand over my extended belly, I prayed again for the child within.

Protect him, please. Keep him healthy. I want to hold him. I need you to encourage me, God. Help me. I’m afraid.

When I opened my eyes, a large monarch butterfly floated out of the clouds and landed on my belly. Hardly daring to breathe, I watched as his wings opened and closed in a foreshadow of blessing.

As the baby moved, I wondered if the monarch might be disturbed and fly away. But he rode the wave, stayed in position and kept his gaze on my face.

For over an hour, we baked in the sun, ingested the natural vitamin D and shared in worship moments.

Then the monarch carefully lifted off, floated around me a couple of times, drank deeply from my colorful zinnia garden and disappeared into the clouds.

When I returned to the house and journaled about my experience, I felt encouraged, renewed and ready to face whatever happened in the next few months.

God often uses his creation to encourage, uplift and remind me that he is indeed greater than my problem. Since he is the one who manipulates cellular metabolism, hangs the stars in his front yard and whispers, “Peace be still” in the middle of storms – then he can certainly deal with my everyday stresses.

I wonder how many scenarios he manages and shows up to help us when we aren’t alert enough to look for him. Perhaps in heaven, we’ll watch a giant video screen and see his image beside our sick child, walking down the aisle with us as we graduate or smiling as we choose our first car.

Like the monarch’s appearance, he is with us – longing to soothe our fears and direct us toward the best path for our lives.

Because of my experience with the monarch, I nurture my butterfly bush and let the red clover grow around the perimeter of my yard. These plants attract monarchs every year and continue to remind me God is near.

And what of the precious child I carried that summer day? He is now 30 years old, a healthy and sensitive man who makes me proud every day to be called his mom.Caleb and Mom at reception

Hope wins. We just have to keep watching for the finish line.

©2016 RJ Thesman – Author of the Reverend G books http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh

Delay vs. Denial

Somewhere on the internet, I read the quote, “God’s delay is not necessarily his denial.”

It seemed like the perfect sentiment for a bumper sticker or maybe a tasteful tattoo. But in spite of the obvious aesthetic value of these settings, I wondered what the quote might teach me.

So many Bible verses challenge us to wait while Bible stories seem to underline this principle. “Wait on the Lord. Wait I say on the Lord” (Psalm 27:14). King David waited several years and battled for his life until he finally became King of Israel. Hannah, Elizabeth and Sarah waited years for a promised child. Even Jesus waited to fulfill his destiny until God said, “Go.”

Within the closet of my prayer life, I often list requests and then wait for God to do something. But recently, I experienced that time-lapsed delay in reverse.

As a writer, I want my work posted on best-seller lists. The notoriety is only one piece of that desire. Marketing is another. But the most important role that a best-seller plays is that the words God has given me go out into the world. Writing a best-seller is one of the best ways to fulfill the Great Commission. Words travel from Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and into all the world – including over the internet waves in cyberspace.

So as a writer, I pray that my words will become best-sellers. I’ve been doing this work professionally for almost 40 years and thought I was still waiting and praying for a best-seller. But God already answered that prayer in reverse and didn’t tell me about it. Recently, I discovered that “A Cup of Comfort Devotional for Mothers” – one of the anthologies that includes my writing –  became a best-seller back in 2007. All this time, I could have been celebrating with chocolate or cheesecake – or worship.

So it is true that God’s delay is not necessarily his denial. In my case – he answered a long time ago – and chose not to tell me. That’s okay. Now, I can pray for the next best-seller.