Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

June 13, 2010

Give Me a Sign

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

Signs abound on the landscape.  It is a billboard, a temporary sign at the corner for a yard sale, or even a street sign.  Life is confronted with signs.  Some signs are helpful, while others at times are intrusive. 

But what about those times we say, “Give me a sign!”  Are we looking for a street sign, a sign to identify a restaurant, or a sign to show us the detour route?  No, I believe we say, “Give me a sign” when we are wanting some direction from heaven.  Whether we are a spiritual person or not, most of us at one time or another have looked to heaven and said, “Give me a sign.”

Some of the tough decisions in life bring us to a moment when we want the Almighty to give us directions.  We want Him to make or confirm a choice we face.  I confess I have had such moments.

I remember one particular one.  Our family was at a national conference center where I was serving on the faculty.  We had explored the possibility of a new direction in our life.  It would be a major change in ministry, as well as relocation.  The dialogue and process had gone on for several months.  We were growing weary and desired that the Board of the organization would make a final decision of the job description so we could respond with our decision.

It was an afternoon, and most of the family were out somewhere on campus or taking a rest.  I sat in the apartment contemplating the matter.  I emphatically prayed, “God, give me a sign.”  I acknowledge to you that within five minutes, there was a knock at the door.  At the door stood the  director of this ministry.  He came to apologize about the delay in our talking, and then he continued to express the desire of the Board for me to come, and he shared the job description.

Now was that a “sign?”  It was certainly an answer to prayer!  But then how was the “sign” to be interpreted?  Was this man at the door a “sign” that we were to accept the invitation?  Or was it simply a “sign” that God answers prayer?

For me, getting a “sign” has never been clear.  For me, it is the difficulty of interpreting the “sign.”  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could just call out, “Please, give me a sign,” and it would be so obvious that we would have no doubt what our decision should be?

I suppose we want a “sign” as clear as Gideon received.  Remember in the Bible, recorded in Judges 6, Gideon asked God for a “sign.”  He  placed a piece of wool on the ground and asked God to let the wool be wet from the dew the next morning while the ground around it would be dry.  And it happened, just like he asked.  But Gideon wanted to be sure he was interpreting the “sign” correctly, so he asked God to reverse the process the next morning.  And it happened!  The next morning, the wool was dry while the ground all around it was wet.  I believe I would even have believed in that “sign.”  But it has not worked that way for me.

One of the first sermon illustrations I remember was about a young man who worked with his father on the family farm.  One day he came in and told his father that he would no longer work on the farm, but needed to become a preacher.  The father inquired what had brought about this decision.  The son explained that as he was plowing in the field, he looked up into the heavens and the clouds had formed perfect letters “P’ and “C.”  The son went on to explain that it was a sign from God that he was to Preach Christ.  The wise father responded that it could also be a sign saying Plow Corn!

With that story, I realized that I perhaps lack wisdom of interpretation, even if I received a “sign.”  So, for me, I will just continue to pray and believe that God gives an inward confidence and direction.  That is still difficult of course.  It is so easy to question a feeling, impulse, or emotion as a word from God.  But I believe it is the way God most often responds to our “Give me a sign.”

“I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.”  (Isaiah 48:17)  “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” (Psalm 32:8)  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.”  (Proverbs 3:5,6)



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