A Friend’s 47-Year Wait on the Lord

As we walk by faith, things will occur in our lives we don’t understand. We all relate to painful trials, but I hope we have also felt the comfort of life-changing tender mercies. I often ponder, “why?” but this is a question that only a divine source can accurately give, and the “why?” is often delayed while we build our faith. My friend John Butrick has a truly inspiring personal story of waiting on the Lord in both trials and tender mercies which he has encouraged me to share.

My Friend, John Butrick

John lost his father during an operation when he was only 5-years-old, and then his mother was diagnosed with cancer a few years later. They were living in Michigan, but moved to Washington so she could get treatment. However, 3-years after the diagnosis, the cancer took her and she died at 47, and so he became an orphan when just 13-years old. At that time his brother came to pick him up and took him to Iowa, where he could help with a dairy farm.

While there, a relative suggested they join the air force to avoid being drafted into the army for the Viet Nam conflict and he did so. There was a large group of them that were told they would be security forces. He ended up in the conflict and was tasked with keeping their base perimeter secure while the Navy and other forces made a withdrawal. At the time, they were losing about 3-people a day from attacks.

At one point during his service, a rocket entered the hooch where they were sleeping. It bounced off a metal cabinet and threw John against a wall and went into the next hooch. The resulting explosion killed the people in the neighboring hooch and knocked him unconscious.  Later he was serving on a tower about 35’ up. He was climbing down when a rocket struck the tower, knocking him unconscious again. This time, his legs fell through the rungs, leaving him hanging upside down. The NVA (North Vietnamese Army) came through that night, but must have assumed he was dead because they just left him there. He came to, just as reinforcements arrived to retake the position. They were amazed he was still alive and assisted him down.

When he returned from the service, he arrived in a town where he saw an ad asking for someone to help on a nearby dairy farm because the father was injured. He took the job and one night, he came in about 10 at night, took off his boots and set them next to his bed and lay down on the bed exhausted with his clothes on. He woke up to find he was in a sitting position on the bed but found his body was rigid and he couldn’t move, save for his eyes. Strangely, he felt no fear. Glancing around, he could see the minute hand on the clock and hear the neighboring room’s gas stove turning on and off. The he felt something inside of his chest pulling him upward toward the ceiling and the wall. For some 10-minutes, the pull grew stronger, like a powerful vacuum and he felt something within his body pressing inside. He felt something was approaching and when it arrived, he said, “It’s here” and his spirit left his body. He describes the feeling as being “shot out” and he saw the earth. At that point there was a loud voice that was so loud he felt Earth and Heaven could all hear it. Then he saw a shadow of a trumpet and was moved on to exclaim, “Gabriel’s trumpet!” He felt a powerful love associated with what he saw next. “I saw a great light out there that was controlling all of the galaxies, all revolving around this central light. I exclaimed, “Oh God, this is how you made this planet! It is so amazing!” My soul was so happy, I just wanted to be there forever. Then a second wave of love hit me that was so much greater than the first love I felt. It was associated with a planet or place, but I saw no planet.” He then related that he was elevated to a third sphere whose love and beauty were so far beyond his ability to comprehend that it left him without capacity to describe. It filled his soul such that he just felt desire to praise God forever. When he returned to his body, he found he was still in the sitting position and suddenly fell back on his pillow. The clock showed 10-minutes had passed. He was wide awake and immediately jumped up and proceeded outside to look up at a beautiful star-filled sky and ponder what had just happened.

After that, he drove into the small city, and seeing a cafe, stopped to get refreshment and inquire where there might be a church. There was an empty seat at the end of the barstools and he sat down and ordered a cup of coffee and asked the man next to him about churches in the area. The man said, “There is a church nearby. I teach there in the basement, but the congregation doesn’t know I’m there teaching about Jesus Christ.” John assumed he was a preacher and told him what had happened and asked him what he thought the spiritual manifestation meant. He hadn’t told the man his name, but the man stood up and said, “John, it means that God has a plan for you.”  The man then excused himself and John observed him enter the nearby bathroom. He waited, but after 15 minutes, he hadn’t returned, so John asked the waitress if there was another door to the bathroom, to which she responded, “That is the only door.” He went in to find there was no one there and no other way out. John chose not to pursue looking for the nearby church, because, in his words, “He was an angel, and I had my answer.”

At one point, John was working in Georgia and began praying to find a wife. During this time his brother came to him and said, “Mom came to me in a dream and told me to come and get you.”  John related, “We went a few weeks later to Lake Cavenaugh and a woman named Gail came in the room where we were and a warm feeling ran down my spine. Two-weeks later, we were dating and soon after that we were married. After first offering those prayers to find my wife, it took 2-years and God taking me some 2500 miles to finally meet Gail.”

Regarding his spiritual manifestation, which he only told to his wife, she would tell him, “Someday you will understand why.” They lived happily together but then, in their later years, his wife got dementia. John cared for her, but as the dementia progressed, he sought for help and his daughter, living in Utah, offered to have them join her family. While in Utah, he was introduced to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ missionaries and he began studying the “Mormon Bible.” He began praying to know if it was a true book. Then, he started reading the section where Lehi and then Nephi see the vision of the Tree of Life. He came to where it described the fruit of the tree as being the ‘Love of God’ and the same powerful love that he had felt in his spiritual experience came over him. He put the book down and with tears in his eyes, he exclaimed, “Now I know that Joseph Smith is the prophet for the whole world and the Book of Mormon is a true book.” This was further confirmed when the missionaries taught him about the three degrees of glory each with successively greater capacity to feel and communicate love.

At the age of 72, John became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I first met him on the evening of his baptism. When the service was over, I couldn’t return home. The Spirit constrained me to go to visit John at his home instead, and in the hour I spent there getting to know him, we began to share some very spiritual experiences and John felt inspired that he could tell me his very sacred and personal story. John and I minister together now to others in the area and are dear friends. I wouldn’t have recorded his story here, but I had a dream where I had a special opportunity to hear John Butrick sing. It was beautiful and carried an undeniable Spirit of truth and humble power. In my dream I wanted very much to record his song. And when I woke, I felt powerfully impressed that I needed to write his story.

John feels his mission is to guide both his family and others he can touch. He is now a temple worker, assisting God’s work on both sides of the veil. Bless you John, and all who read this who also pondering God’s work.

Another Friend who overcame addiction to bless 1000s: My friend TR