Maybe it’s because I’m a pastor… or because I’m a bit of a dreamer (it’s probably both), but I am always looking for God to give me signs. Signs are kind of like divine hints… if life were a crossword puzzle, following signs would be like seeing a quick glimpse of the answer key in order to get momentum. Should I make this or that decision? Am I on the right track? Is there someone or something I should be listening to right now? Is this where you want me, God?
I think this comes from a good spiritual impulse. It basically reflects my desire not to screw up God’s plan for my life. And, generally speaking, these signs do help me to stay on course (as far as I can humanly tell). But I have also discovered that sometimes following signs (yes, even signs from God) runs the risk of derailing my faith (not God’s fault, but mine). Here’s why.
When I was growing up in Southern California, we lived about 45 minutes from Disneyland. We used to go every time there was a birthday, anniversary, or special celebration in the family. I’m guessing we went at least 5 or 6 times a year. As an adult, I probably couldn’t handle it, but as a kid, it just never got old. In fact, no matter how many times we went, I still felt a thrill of excitement when we saw the big “Welcome to Disneyland” sign just outside the parking lot.
That being said, to my memory, I never once recall stopping the car and spending the rest of the day frolicking around the Disneyland sign as if that were the same thing as going to Disneyland. That would be ridiculous, right? Of course it would. Yet, if I’m not careful, this is exactly what I end up doing in my relationship with Jesus.
Signs are important and helpful. But, like the Disneyland sign, they point to something beyond themselves. They are not the thing they point to. This seems totally obvious, I know. But sometimes, I can get so hung up on signs that I end up following them more than I follow Jesus… and they are not the same thing. The sign is just a pointer. Let me give you an example.