When my sister was in high school she was running a little late one morning, and as she drove up to campus she couldn’t find a parking spot anywhere. Instead of taking the time to really look, she (I’m not making this up) took it as a sign from God that she should take the day off from school and go shopping. Our city, Ocala, Florida, was about 45 minutes south of Gainesville, Florida, where the good shopping was. (You know Ocala had nothing to offer when kids had to go to Gainesville for good shopping.)
She headed out to Gainesville in her crappy old car, and wouldn’t you know it, she broke down about halfway to her destination and had to have someone come pick her up and help with the car. I never heard the conversation that went on with her and my parents, but I got the notes. Her sign from God didn’t quite turn out be accurate or even a good excuse to avoid repercussions.
Why do we all want to see signs? We all want them, yet there’s no formula to get them and there seems to be no consistency in them. There’s not really a checklist of marks that identify a sign to know if it really is one or not. We’re essentially asking and looking for something that we don’t understand.
I do believe in signs. I do believe that sometimes there is something unexplainable that happens or some sort of confirmation from God that occurs. But if I’m honest, I just think that they are really rare and don’t happen like in the movies. I know a lot of bad decisions that have been made because someone thought they were given a sign. I know because I’m the one that has made those decisions.
Asking for a sign is a great way to set yourself up for disappointment. Sorry to break it you, DMX. Here’s why I think that:
First off, if you don’t see a sign then you might get the impression that God is not listening to you. You might start to think that your life is somehow off track.
Secondly, if you ask for a sign, instead of listening, you are now looking. And here is the dangerous part—when you are looking, and you don’t know what you’re looking for, anything can look like a sign. It’s the same logic Christopher Columbus was using when he started calling Native Americans Indians. He was looking for India but wasn’t sure what it looked like.
Lastly, if you think you see a sign and you act on it and it turns out to be inaccurate, it can make you feel pretty stupid in a situation you were never meant to feel stupid in. Not only will you feel like you failed, you will feel like an idiot for thinking you saw something you didn’t.
Signs attach expectations onto our lives that don’t belong. Asking God for a sign is basically saying, “Hey, I don’t know how to listen long enough or trust You enough for You to lead me without miraculously spelling everything out for me. K, thanks!”
If we really want to get Biblical on this thing, let’s look at what Jesus said in Matthew 16:4.
“Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign, but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah.” Then Jesus dropped the mic and went away.
(I made a minor hermeneutical edit to the end of that scripture.)
I’m not saying signs won’t ever occur. I would just argue that looking for them is a dangerous ground to be on. And I’m willing to bet that most of the time that one sign will not even be enough. You’ll want more because you’ll start doubting that sign.
To me, life comes down to making educated decisions. I am trying to remember that God knows how to lead me better than I know how to lead myself. If it’s something important, then he won’t let me miss it.
Live life with your chin up and shoes tied tight. Keep showing up. Take the hurt. Take the uneasiness. You will make it through. Don’t spend so much time looking for miraculous signs in the sky that you miss the miracles happening right in front of you everyday.