Thursday, August 27, 2015

Ask the Butterflies

Photo credit: Myrko Thum
But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. Job 12:7-10
If you've seen the cover of my book then you know it features a beautiful butterfly emerging from its chrysalis. I feel a rush of joy every time I look at it - not only because I think the graphic artist did a great job, but because the image holds great spiritual significance for me.

Actually, I think it's a pretty cool story...

The road to getting my book published has been a long and arduous one. From writing the manuscript, to preparing a 70-page proposal, to signing an agent, to pitching it to countless publishing companies, the project has been the literary equivalent of running a marathon: deeply fulfilling yet fraught with uphill climbs, personal pain, and the occasional urge to just give up.

Truth be told, at one point last fall I was ready to throw in the towel. After a particularly disappointing setback with a key person (I'll spare you the details), I started to question whether I had made a mistake by ever writing the stupid thing.

One day during this dark period a friend called and said, "Hey, Sara, let me take you to my prayer group tomorrow. Maybe their prayers will help lift your spirits." I thought that was a great idea - I needed all the help I could get.

The next morning as I waited for my friend to pick me up, I noticed a butterfly outside my window. This was quite unusual because we lived in a high-rise apartment building way up on the 14th floor, and I had NEVER seen a butterfly fly that high in the seven years we lived there. I watched transfixed as he flitted around for a few seconds, alighted on the balcony railing, and then flitted off again.

My friend arrived and we headed to her church for prayer. I didn't mention the butterfly. We parked, walked toward the front entrance, and just as I was opening the door a HUGE monarch emerged from a nearby bush, flying right up in front of me. "Hey, look at that butterfly!" my friend exclaimed. "It nearly hit you in the face!"

I thought to myself, How strange! That's the second unusual butterfly encounter today. God, are You trying to tell me something?

We climbed the stairs to the second floor where the prayer group was waiting. After making our introductions, I told them a little bit about my book and the recent disappointments. This precious group of men and women listened intently and then got to praying.

At one point during the prayer time, one of the men said, "Sara, I want you to look out the window." I opened my eyes and was amazed to see a gigantic butterfly zig-zagging its way across the sky. "You know, butterflies are a symbol of new beginnings," he said. "What a wonderful reminder that 'God makes all things new.' [Revelation 21:5] Don't worry, Sara. If He wants your book published He will make a new way for it to happen, just like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon."

Of course, the man had no idea that I had already seen two butterflies that morning. Yet here he was, pointing out a third and telling me that it represented God's ability to make all things new. That I didn't need to fret, for God was in control. That maybe there was a future for this book.

Message received, God.

As I left the church I could feel my heart full of renewed hope. I walked back into my apartment later that day with a spring in my step, marveling at the idea that God would choose to encourage me through butterflies. As I entered my living room, I stopped dead in my tracks. I had forgotten what was hanging on my wall. Just that past week I had bought some new art and had prominently displayed it above my sofa:

It was as if God were driving the point home: "Remember, Sara, I make all things new."

Fast forward six months. It's April, and I've signed with a wonderful Christian publisher, Credo House Publishers. They are attentive, caring, and talented. My dream of publishing a book has come true. It's time to choose a cover, and the publisher has sent me a computer file with several different cover designs for my consideration. As I click on the file to open it, I smile to myself, thinking, Lord, it would be just like you to have them put a butterfly on the cover. The file opens, and the image pops up on the screen:

Yes, God makes all things new. And now I have a visual reminder, every time I look at my book.

What about you? Have you recently experienced a disappointment or setback? Seek God for answers. Call on Him for help. Nothing is beyond His ability to renew - no relationship, job, situation, or struggle. He is the master of new beginnings.

Just ask the butterflies.