Before you read any further, let me say that I hope you are sitting with a full cup of hot tea or coffee in your hand and can devote yourself fully to this story. It is one of the most difficult writings I have done but also one which is the dearest to my heart. Today I want to honor and remember my mom on the 11th anniversary of her passing on to her eternal reward in heaven. The hidden gem in the nugget you are about to read is learning what it means to embrace a struggle, either for yourself or someone you love. I will say this more than once because it is so important to grasp. There is a purpose for that struggle which you may so greatly despise right now. So read on my friend. I have already prayed for you to grab hold of the truth to bring you comfort in the midst of a hard struggle.
Mary, my mom, knew the value and wisdom of living a life dedicated to serving God. She taught me and my six siblings so much, but her greatest legacy was to lay a godly foundation for her children so we would live our lives rooted in faith. Mary loved God from the time she was a young girl. But it was much later in her life as an adult that she came to that place of truly embracing life as a born again Believer. It was that sweet personal relationship with her Savior that fueled a passion in her to share the love of Jesus with everyone that God put in her path. Her greatest desire was that the Lord would use her to reach as many people as possible to come and know the same love of Jesus that she had come to cherish.
In her later years Mary endured many physical struggles and she lived with the aftermath of a debilitating stroke the last 16 years of her life. Notice I said she “LIVED” because even as her body got weaker over the years, her spirit just got stronger. She purposed to live each day reaching out to others and shared the love of God that dwelled so deeply within her. I remember there were many times when she would have a home health nurse come to her home to check on her. What should have been a quick visit from the nurse often turned into a much lengthier one because my mother was sharing a testimony of all that the Lord had done for her. In spite of the many health issues she battled, Mary learned to live a life of joy. This joy captivated her nurses and often they would vie with one another to see who would have the honor of paying my mom a visit on any given day!
About three weeks before the Christmas of 2005 my mom was admitted to the hospital for a heart pacemaker procedure. She went through the surgery with flying colors and I even spoke with her the night before she would be discharged to go home. Christmas was her favorite holiday and she was all chatter about the coming celebrations. I had no idea at the time that this conversation was to be my last opportunity to hear her voice here on earth. For this reason I will be forever grateful to my middle sister and her decision to pay a last minute visit to my mom that night. It was during their visit that my mom asked my sister to call me so she could talk with me for a few minutes. Not even twenty four hours after that happy conversation I received a frantic call from my youngest sister with devestating news. For reasons unknown my dear mother suffered two very strong seizures and as a result she slipped into a coma for the last two and a half months of her life. There is more to this story but before I go on I must interject another story and some thoughts to set the stage. Stay with me please.
“A little boy was walking home when he spotted a caterpillar struggling to get out of its cocoon. Feeling sorry for the helpless creature, the little boy ran home, grabbed a pair of scissors and ran back to cut the caterpillar free. He watched it spread its wings and try to fly, only to discover with great disappointment that it could not use its wings. Why could the butterfly not fly, not reach its ultimate destiny to use its wings? It is in the struggle out of the darkness of the cocoon that the butterfly’s wings gain enough strength to fly, to be fully transformed into the beautiful creature it was created to be.”
Have you ever been caught up watching the flight of a butterfly? It really can be quite mesmerizing. In my opinion these delicate creatures have got to be one of God’s finest works of beauty and mystery. I mean think about it. How can a homely-slower than molasses-unimpressive-hairy-brown caterpillar end up looking like an exquisite painting on wings when it is all said and done! Let me tune you into a little secret. It took a PROCESS for that little caterpillar to become a butterfly. There were several stages that creature endured before it emerged from its cocoon or its chrysalis for those of you who like things a bit more scientific. I am not going to go into a detailed study of the various metamorphic stages of a butterfly. I do however want to hone in on the final stage when the butterfly is pushing its way into a new birth where he is set free from the confines of its cocoon. Did you know that the butterfly has to struggle to get free? A butterfly is SUPPOSED to struggle as he works to break out of the cocoon. In fact, the butterfly’s struggle pushes the fluid out of its body and into its wings. Without the struggle, the butterfly would never, ever fly.
I would like to ask two questions of you dear friend. First, do you feel that you are in a dark place right now and no one sees what you are going through? I would ask you not to be too quick to despise this dark season. As hard as it is to imagine, the greatest changes for a butterfly takes place in the darkness of the cocoon. In fact to the outsider it appears as though NOTHING IS HAPPENING during this “dormant” stage. Those who have studied these amazing creatures often refer to this period as the butterfly’s MOURNING (yes like grieving) stage! Friend I challenge you to embrace your cocoon! Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning! Psalm 30:5 There is a purpose for this hidden, almost seemingly dead season. God has allowed you to be in this place where only His eye can see what His hand is doing to change you into something beautiful. Wait on Him. Do not rush the PROCESS. Wait on His timing.
Secondly, are you in a battle of some kind pleading with God to remove that struggle? The struggle could be a personal health issue, a failing marriage, financial stresses, or even a trying job situation. Perhaps someone you love deeply is struggling and you feel helpless to “get them out!” Like the little boy in the story you are desperate to find scissors to help this person out of his or her struggle. Whether the struggle is yours or someone else’s, you are very likely crying to God for a miracle. Beloved, I plead with you to be patient. Do not try to rush the PROCESS. Wait on God. Remember that there is a purpose for this struggle whether it is you or another person in your life. God is at work!
Now…back to Mary’s story. Watching my precious mom day after day lying in this dark state of existence was almost more than I or my siblings and father could bear. Oh how desperately I wanted to help her out of this dark “cocoon” if only I could have. I knew without a doubt that God could heal and restore my mother. He had pulled her through countless times before. In my mind I rationalized that perhaps he was about to do his greatest healing miracle in her yet. Still, the painfully long hours became days. The days became weeks. And the weeks eventually reached their two month mark. Can I be gut wrenchingly honest right here? I did not like what was happening. I despised this struggle for my mom because there was absolutely nothing I could do to pull her out of this death like sleep. I had so many questions and not enough answers. Mary had already been through so much physical pain for years. Why this? Why now? Why why why??? Only by God’s grace in the midst of this storm, I somehow managed to still pray even if so many of my prayers were nothing more than these three words: “Please God…HELP!” More than once I pleaded with God to either miraculously heal my mom or to mercifully take her home.
One day as I was crying to the Lord for mercy and grace in the struggle my mom was enduring he gave me a precious “butterfly nugget” of truth. I was grieving because I felt that I could not communicate or reach my mom in that deep coma. In many ways I felt as though I had already lost her. But then God revealed a precious secret that I will never forget. God’s nugget to me was a reminder that she was not beyond His reach and they were both having the sweetest moments of communication together. He reminded me that he was putting his finishing touch on her spirit and that soon enough her struggle would end and she would fly. Oh how I clung to that lifeline of hope! So on February 17, 2006 my mother’s struggle finally came to an end. What her weakened frail body lacked was now overshadowed by a spirit that was ready to soar as never before! My sweet mother emerged from the darkness of her cocoon with “butterfly wings” strong enough to carry her straight into the arms of Jesus. Never again would she have to have endure another struggle. Mary was finally free and had reached her eternal home. Yes, on that February morning God answered my two prayers simultaneously as only He could have done. The moment my mother took her last earthly breath God took her home where she received her total healing! That was her miracle. God had kept his promise to her and to me! Because of this truth God took my grieving broken heart of loss and filled it with the peace and joy that only comes in knowing that this was not the end for my mother but the beginning of something far greater than I could imagine! Even now on those days when I long to hear her voice and feel her embrace, I rejoice in knowing that I will see her again. What a beautiful promise that is!
So now dear ones I implore you once more to embrace your dark place and the hard struggle for just a little longer. The struggle brings strength and is an important part of any growth experience. It is in the struggle that you will find your true strength and by God’s grace you will find a healing when the struggle is over. Your healing may not always come in the way you imagined it would but trust God and rest in the knowledge that His ways are without error.
My friends, you were meant to fly, not to limp around in life with broken wings. But you must endure the struggle if you ever want to take flight and fulfill your God ordained destiny. Right now I ask you to give it all you have. Push a little more. Press in a little harder. I know you can do it. There it is…that glimmer of light beginning to peak through your darkness. Your cocoon is about to crack open and soon you will emerge as the new creation you were designed to be. Now my friend spread your wings and FLY!
“…and I am sure that God who began the good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in his grace until his task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns.” ~Philippians 1:6~
PS: Are you in a dark place of struggle right now? Or perhaps someone who is so dear to you is in the struggle of their life. Do not lose hope. It would be my privilege to pray for you. Simply leave a comment with or without details. Three words are all that are needed: “Pray for me.” There is a purpose in this struggle…may God’s grace sustain you through it.