Don’t miss the lesson in practicing patience
“So the Jews said to him, ‘What sign do you show for doing these things?’” (John 2:18)
Driving down the highway, I was deluged with signs. There were billboards, fast food restaurant and gas station signs high in the air, traffic signs telling me which exit to take, speed limit signs, and mile markers. My mind had to choose which to observe and which were a distraction I didn’t need. If I glanced at a sign too long I might run into the car in front of me.
When I saw the needle on my dashboard was hovering above the “E”, I started looking in earnest for the gas stations signs that matched the charge card in my wallet. There had been tons along the journey, so where were they now that I needed one? Sure enough, in a few miles, there it was. I had to exit, take a side road and cross the bridge to get to it, but it was worth it. The gas there was actually cheaper than at the few non-brand ones I had passed. Go figure.
The same is true in our lives. We travel down life’s road and there are signs everywhere. Some signs are informational, others offer directions and some are only a distraction. But which ones are from God? There are some signs that are obviously not from God – signs that lead us off the path – but what about the less obvious signs? Are all the signs meant for us?
Recently I was in deep prayer about which direction I should take. But once I got off my knees I immediately began to look for the solution. Was this God-orchestrated? Was that? Is this the answer? No? Well, what about that? Like a child on a scavenger hunt, I was looking everyplace I could. “God, just show me a sign,” I prayed. “How do I know this is from You?”
The answer is everything is from God because He is in control. But, because of our free will, we can use or abuse what He provides. I had not trusted in Him to provide the answer in His timing. Instead, I was impatiently looking for it in all the wrong places, and in a few of the right places, just at the wrong time. I was seeking answers where none existed, then wondering why that sign was given to me. Maybe, it was not for me as much as it was for someone else, and I was just distracted by it, like so many on the highway. Just because the exit is there didn’t mean I was to take it. So, why did I think every sign I saw in my life was an answer to my prayer? And, why did I not trust the right one would be there when I needed it?
On the highway, I could have pulled off at the first gas station sign and paid for it with my debit card. I could have pumped in a few gallons of inferior gasoline to tide me over instead of the kind I knew my car needed to run well. But, I chose to trust that the right sign was still up ahead. Sure enough it was, even though it temporarily led me off the path I was on.
Question: Are you looking for signs, or waiting for God to show you the sign?