“If only God would give me some clear sign! Like making a large deposit in my name at a Swiss bank.” – Woody Allen
A friend of mine recently had a very emotional meeting. He was confused. He was angry. He was disappointed. And the meeting did not end as he expected: a loving embrace, a rousing round of Kum Ba Yah. Instead, he tossed and turned all night, knowing that his problem had not been resolved to his satisfaction. I talked with him about it the next day, after he stated that he was even ‘madder than yesterday. I woke up still angry and I took that as a sign from God that I should just act on my first instinct.’ I let him talk a little more, then gently confronted him. ‘Can we go back to that ‘sign from God’ part? Because if you really think God is sending you a sign to be angry and hurtful, I think you need to go back to bed.’
Signs are funny things. I find it most interesting that many ‘signs from God’ are interpreted or twisted to show what the individual wants to see or hear.
Ever notice that physical signs are somewhat permanent? All those signs on the highway, pointing toward the next fast food chain or gas station. It’s a sign that everyone, eventually needs to see. Go this way, and you have arrived; your journey has ended.
Not so with God’s signs, which I refer to as affirmations. Affirmations are validations of our path, that we are headed in the right direction. And affirmations sometimes come in ways we’d never expect, from sources that we didn’t know would give them. Affirmations happen over a period of time; and we have to be ready to receive them when they are presented to us. It’s not a permanent sign that says, ‘Go here, and you’re done.’
Affirmations are the result of peaceful and meaningful contemplation of how God would have us build community in our lives. With our family, with our co-workers, with our neighbors. And every once in awhile, if we listen closely, we hear an affirmation that our neighborhood is not as small as we thought it was. That affirmation reassures us that getting out of our comfort zone is what is needed.
Otherwise, we might as well pull the sheets over our heads and go back to bed.