Although they still spring up here and there nearly fifteen years after that original planting, they are sparse and tend to congregate on the southern edge of the field, shining like the occasional light bulb in a sea of green grass and weeds. They had just started blooming in early May when I spent my entire morning walk with Chloe talking to God about a particularly thorny issue. I had just asked for what seemed impossible.
It has taken me years to reach this point. The church of my day spent nearly its entire existence fighting false doctrines, certainly a noble cause. False teaching can steal souls as easily as the temptations of an increasingly carnal culture. But we often forgot to balance those teachings with the truth, jumping far beyond it to a place of certain safety, where we were so far from the ravenous wolf in sheep’s clothing that we fell into the pit of despair instead. Yes, miracles have ceased, but that doesn’t mean that God no longer works in the world or that my prayers will not be answered. Yes, the Holy Spirit operates through the Word He inspired, but that doesn’t meant that I will not receive help from an avenue He has set in motion. Providence, we call all of those things—normal natural occurrences that seem to come at the most opportune times.
And so I was walking along the path, pulling my way with those now ubiquitous trekking poles of mine, along the back fence, probably fifty feet from the nearest--and loneliest--coreopsis, turning on its southwest side by a stretch where we had sown none of them, and none had ever before appeared. When things do spread, they always go north-northwest, certainly never south, especially in the summer. Yet suddenly, right there before me stood a bright yellow beacon where it should not have been. It was so unexpected I came to a complete halt and called Chloe over, as if she too should have cared. Coming as it did so surprisingly, just after that impossible request, I was instantly reminded that God can do the impossible, and my spirits soared.
No, I am not a mystic, or a believer in such things. But I am reminded of a sermon Jesus preached once, where it seems he glanced up and surely must have seen a flock of birds on the wing, so he said, “Behold the birds of the heavens,” and a few minutes later when he surely must have seen a nearby patch of flowers and said, “Consider the lilies of the field.” Jesus had no problem at all using the natural world to teach His lessons. Why can’t I use the natural world to remind me of lessons I need at a particular time?
I have a friend who loves butterflies. As she endures cancer treatment she often says, “God sent me a butterfly today.” She had looked outside and seen one flitting around in her flowerbeds. That butterfly reminded her that God cares for her, just as Jesus reminds us, Look at the birds of the heavens, that they sow not, neither do they reap nor gather into barns, and your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you of much more value than they? Matt 6:26.
God has created an amazing natural world to teach us if we will but pay attention. Solomon used that natural world in the wisdom God gave him. And he spoke three thousand proverbs; and his songs were a thousand and five. And he spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springs out of the wall; he spoke also of beasts, and of birds, and of creeping things, and of fishes. 1 Kings 4:32-33. If we deny this creation of God its ability to edify and encourage, how are we any different from the pagan who denies that it proves God’s very existence in the first place?
Pay attention to what lies outside your door today, the birds and lilies, the butterflies and the out of place, bright yellow coreopsis. As it turns out, God did answer my impossible prayer that day, in almost exactly the way I had asked. Who am I to try to explain that away?
Jesus looked at them and said, "With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God," Mark 10:27