The year was 2008. It was a typical warm West Virginia July afternoon. Bees were buzzing; weeds were wreaking havoc in my garden. I was tying tomato vines to trellises. Hannah was having a really hard time. It seemed that I was always in a spirit of helpless prayer those days. We had been to several of the major children’s hospitals in North Carolina and seen many of the best specialists in the region. Her condition was worsening. There isn’t much harsher than seeing a child suffer, especially when it is your own.
I had seen miracles before in my own life. By “miracles” I do not mean to use the term as people flippantly throw the word around when something unusual or good happens. I am talking about the things that happen that are so unlikely that in mathematical terms we would call them “absurd.” I am talking about miracles of timing and detail that defy explanation, but that is a matter for another essay. Suffice it to say that as one who has had such experiences, I was primed and ready to believe and receive another one.
I had faith of what God could do. I did not have any certainty of what God would do or what God would allow. I was fasting that day. I am not very good at fasting. I get low blood sugar. I get acid reflux. I drink a lot of water.
Seeing your innocent child suffer does strange things to you. You start to second guess medical decisions. You stress a lot. You wake up in the middle of the night to very slight sounds. Your adrenal glands work overtime keeping you on high alert. If you are a person of faith, you pray. You know that you aren’t supposed to make deals with God, but you are tempted to try. You wonder if there are sins in your own life keeping your prayers from reaching God.
That summer, I was second-guessing my own theological system. Countless well-meaning Christians told me that God would heal her completely. Some even said that she was already healed. “You just need to believe it and receive it,” some of them said. I did not want to limit God or miss anything that God was trying to tell me through these folks. I read all the literature with an open mind. I studied and restudied every passage in the Bible on healing. I memorized countless passages on faith and healing. I meditated on Scripture readings. If faith comes by hearing the Word of God, I wanted to allow the Scriptures to completely transform my thinking. I wanted to open myself up to the truth of the Scriptures, regardless of where it landed me theologically. I wanted truth. And of course, I wanted to see Hannah thrive.
My day of fasting began with water and the Word. I would take breaks and walk about the garden, still in a spirit of meditation. I would return to our screened in porch out back and pray. During a time of intense prayer and just pouring out my soul to the Creator of all things, I closed my eyes and saw a brilliant blue butterfly surrounded by a black background. The image was so intense and the moment was so significant that I can still see this vision as if it had just happened. I opened my eyes for a few moments and then closed them again. This time I saw a little brownish caterpillar crafting a little chrysalis.
I knew that moment was unique. It was a vision from God. If only I knew what it meant.