How does God reveal himself to you when you are struggling? Christine Virgin shares his very personal presence.
Metamorphosis in the Valley
By Christine Virgin
In kindergarten, our classroom caterpillar incubator fascinated me as I witnessed metamorphosis on a day-by-day basis until one day, we released full-grown butterflies into the wild. This was the first time I was captivated by a butterfly encounter.
When I was trying to decide what college to attend, I was journaling and praying along a brook near the University of North Carolina when a mini monarch migration flew by in the most beautiful formation that I knew I was supposed to go there. When I was seven months pregnant and stuck in Key West alone, I visited the butterfly garden. A butterfly landed on my pregnant belly and stayed there for several minutes, somehow revealing to me that I was carrying a baby girl ¾though I wouldn't know for sure until she was born.
Maybe this sounds coincidental, but Scripture teaches us that God cares deeply about and longs to be in relationship with each of us. Because he cares for us, he meets us where we are in ways that speak most obviously to us.
While for you it might be through streams or creeks, or mountains, or sand on your feet or wind in your face, I know God knows me well enough to know I see him meeting me through butterfly encounters, which he has provided daily through a current trial. I’ve caught them flitting over the hood of my car while driving, flying out over the Chesapeake Bay while boating far from land, and while on a walk, swooping in front of my path. I’m so glad that Swallowtail survived the near-trampling and flitted off slowly so I could take in its beauty before it disappeared into the trees.
In my current season of difficulty, as I’ve walked – and sometimes limped and trudged – the path before me, God has reminded me daily that he is with me, he is faithful, and what I’m facing does not define me. He reminds us that when we are weakest, he is strongest (2 Corinthians 12:9), and that he binds up the wounds of the brokenhearted (Psalm 147:3).
When life deals us the inevitable blows that come with being human, we have two choices: we can turn to God, or we can turn our backs to him. Our flesh so often convinces us to do the latter. But there is richness and beauty when our spirits guide us to trust in the safety of his presence.
Though I would never wish it on anyone, especially myself, heartache and suffering give us opportunity to cling to him like nothing else on this earth. He beckons us to draw near to him in the valley when our flesh wants to pound our fists on his chest and give him a piece of our minds. (And he even welcomes those expressions and loves us still, thank goodness.)
But when we turn to him in these times instead of fight him, something miraculous happens in the valley that we can’t possibly learn along any other part of our life journeys. It is in the valleys where his unrelenting lovingkindness pursues us, where his presence is most palpable. He reassures us in supernatural ways. I don’t notice God all around me when life is going well like I do when I need him to get me through not only each day, but each hour and minute.
God knew this world would be a hard place for us to wait for eternity with him. But there is a reward and a richness to our relationship with the Creator of the Universe when we resolve to look to him in our greatest time of need and see all the evidence of his care. And then take heart, waiting patiently to see him make beauty from ashes once we are through the fire.
Amid current valleys, Christine Virgin's also celebrating the "hill" of releasing her debut novel, The Beautiful List. The middle grade fiction book encourages pre-teens and their moms to embrace their innate worth and beauty, and is available anywhere books are sold. She currently speaks at schools and to groups such as the Girl Scouts about her own beautiful journey. When she's not writing, speaking, or driving her unpaid Ubermobile for her three kids, she races her BMWs at the track whenever possible. For more information, check out www.thebeautifullist.com, subscribe to her blog at christinevirgin.com or on Instagram @christinevirgin and Facebook @ChristineEVirgin.