Could it be, I wondered, that the time was soon or upon me now when God would miraculously turn and transform my "November" barrenness and chilly weather to spring and warmth and new life?
I had felt some lowering of my hope, but this thought gave me a boost of hope, and I am sharing this with you, as others no doubt are experiencing their "Novembers," when a great storm has passed (or any number of storms and stresses and barren, desert-like experiences, without any end in sight), as in the story to follow, and there seems no possibility of a butterfly of fulfilled dreams and destiny fluttering brightly and beautifully into our lives.
I told the Lord the other night that I couldn't wait forever, always reliving the meaningful but heartbreaking story of Joseph, in memory, in films, in all sorts of ways, yet never seeing the raising up and the rebirth in my own life. We know that God knows our every thought, but I actually addressed this to Him, for it is my thought about the whole promise of new life as Joseph's story in particular portrays it. I am like a dry, thirsty well, and I am needing His water! I must have His water, his fountain of new life! But I want the river of God this time--not just a sprinkle or two just to keep me from drying up completely and blowing away in despair and disillusionment! I have had countless sprinkles, for which I thank God--but I still await the river of God!
Joseph (after 13 years of slavery and prison and terrible experiences) got his river of God--and I too want that river to flow over me and my life, changing everything. I realize that Joseph first proved faithful in little things before the great things and their management were given to him by the king of Egypt--and that means my remaining faithful in the circumstances where God has put me--and not shirking them or holding them in low esteem. Joseph learned valuable lessons of servanthood in the most difficult and demeaning circumstances--cast into a well, then dragged out only to be cast into slavery in Egypt, then after a time of relative favor with Potiphar in his household being cast down once again, this time into actual prison! What could be worse than prison in Egypt, a foreign country, and you are a Hebrew slave to begin with? You have utterly no hope then of reprieve or clemency from these foreigners who hate Hebrews. You are nothing, absolutely nothing! The lowest of the low! Society has put you at the bottom of the bottom--with no probation board to review your case and no chance of parole. YOU ARE FINISHED, BUCKO! Yet God...yet God...
The Bible wastes no words, yet the book of Genesis devotes many chapters to Joseph's life, and though the story takes many a downward turn, and even a plunge into the pit of an Egyptian prison, the best is yet to be. We see that God had an end of the very, very painful business of fashioning Joseph on His potter's wheel. He finished at last with making Joseph a humble, willing instrument in his hands, for He had fashioned from Joseph's clay a vessel of true gold. In a stunningly quick move of elevation and favor, God had the king raise and exalt Joseph to the pinnacle of success, authority, and usefulness to the Egyptian nation and also, by extension and all according to God's original purpose, to his family (which was the Messianic family!). Through Joseph's family, preserved by Joseph through his position of premier of Egypt, the line of Judah his brother led to David and the Lord Jesus Christ, and thus God's master plan of Salvation was fulfilled. How important was, then, God's dealing with Joseph, one lone Hebrew youth.
Likewise, may I say we do not know all the ramifications of God's dealings with us individually--but someday it will be known, and we shall know, just as in Joseph's experience all was ultimately revealed. Each of us has a unique destiny, which is in God's plan to accomplish, if we are willing enough as his clay to be shaped into the instrument by the Master Potter. I pray you will be...I pray I will be that kind of clay, soft and yielding and willing to be made whatever He chooses. Joseph did not turn rebelliously away from God, he submitted and allowed himself to become that kind of clay, even if he did not start out that way, being initially a rather pampered young boy and favorite of his father Jacob back in the camp at Hebron. It took some very hard circumstances, even disasters, to knock and slap and pound him into usefulness and ultimately bring him to the top government position in Egypt after Pharaoh himself. It took a November, and then some!
May God bring us through our own personal, individual Novembers. May we stand faithful in the Novembers, not running away or fighting them, until God turns them to spring! He alone can release us into a miraculous spring, though for the world it may be turning winter, not spring at all, when all human hopes and dreams fade and die amidst cold, harsh weather and harships.
May we be fulfilled and be granted a truly divine release (not of our own shabby making) from a cold November, and fly upwards and as a blessing to others, like those beautiful Red Admirals that flew over the graves of the brave fallen soldiers in France, while one even visited an old mother over in England who was about to die.
May we be become like Joseph--a saving sort of person, who comes at the right time to preserve God's master plan, to preserve and save his own family from extinction, who in the realization and fulfilment of his own dreams was the vital means God provided to bring fulfilment to His own divine "dream." What was that Dream? It was His redemption for the saving of lost humanity through the death and resurrection of his Son, Jesus. What greater Dream could there be--yet God somehow needed a dreamer like Joseph to make it come true! So here is where we come in. God has a Dream for each of us--which He wants to fulfill and bring forth. May our Novembers turn miraculously to Spring! Spring--Rebirth, Resurrection, New Life, New Fruitfulness! This is open to all--ALL--for the Bible says, God shows no partiality, He has favor for us all, He will turn our clay into pure gold.
My wife and I visited Canadian war graves in France in 1987 following the storm which devastated the South coast of England as well as Northern France, yet the strange fact was that when we visited the war graves of Dieppe, and those of the Normandy beaches, not one cross, not one shrub or tree, was uprooted. Later, I asked my wife if she had noticed anything unusual.
"Yes," she said, "dozens of butterflies." I pointed out that they were all Red Admirals, and that they were all fluttering around the graves of young pilots. The fact that it was November 17 made it all the more strange. I have never seen Red Admirals anywhere in November, at least not in the UK or France, and I told my wife that there must be a story there. I later wrote a short story called "The Red Admirals", which was broadcast on BBC Radio Solent.
On our return to Jersey after our holiday, I had taken advantage of a free health check. The nurse asked me how I felt about needles, then said: "Don't worry, we use butterfly needles now, you won't feel a thing."
I told her about my story. Then she told me something that sent cold shivers down my spine. She said her mother had just died and that my story had startled her. She told me: "I was with Mum in the bedroom holding her hand, when I noticed something on her shoulder. I went to brush it off gently, but saw it was a butterfly, a Red Admiral."
"It was so cold in November," she said, "yet here on Mum's shoulder in Manchester was a Red Admiral. Mum slipped away minutes later and, as she did so, the butterfly rose from Mum's shoulder and flew around the room several times; it finally escaped out of the window I had opened to let it go free."
*Here is a miracle for you and me: "Just as I was finishing typing this Red Admiral story, I heard the radio playing something, and turned up the volume, and it was a song by Jill Osbourne with her singing and repeating the line, "Baby is a butterfly...baby is a butterfly...".--Ronald Ginther