People always say that God gives you signs. Devotions in band on Friday told the anecdote of the man who, when his house was flooding, declined help from three different rescue services, each time saying “no I’m okay, I’ll stay here, my Lord will provide”. He then drowns, gets to heaven and asks God why he didn’t save him, for God to respond that he sent two boats and a helicopter, what more did he want? The message here obviously being to look out for the signs God shows us, and that the signs aren’t always as obvious as God sticking out a hand for us to grab onto. He sends people and things and situations instead.
You might be able to guess that this is one of the many things I’ve never really understood. How do you know when God’s sending you a sign, guiding you in a direction? I don’t mean I want signs and proof that God is there – as nice as that would be – I know we’re supposed to lean on faith for that. But signs of which direction to go, which choices to make. It falls in line with the whole plan for your life thing, and I still find it hard to comprehend. What constitutes a sign? How on earth do you know if something is a sign from God?
So I’m generally pretty skeptical. This next bit is going to make me sound a bit mad. Last night when I was frantically trying to force as much information about physiology into my head ahead of today’s exam, I got really really frustrated that i couldn’t get the notes I’d written out to stick in my head. No matter how many times I looked at it and tried to memorise it by by bit, I could not remember this particular essay plan. I’d been trying for ages and had only managed a tiny paragraph, and for some reason the thought came into my head of, ‘maybe it’s a sign that this won’t come up, and the reason i can’t take it in is because I should be focusing on something else’. And so softened by my frustration, I followed this thinking and apparent divine sign, and moved on to something else. The thing I moved onto (ventral visual pathways, not that anyone would be interested) was easier to remember and I memorised it pretty well – I had lots of supporting studies and a good structure for an essay – it went well and I took this as reassurance that I’d gone in the right direction.
So I went into the exam today reasonably confident (by my exam standards at least) because this topic area that I knew well had come up every year – it was a major part of the course and would definitely be assessed. So the invigilator said begin, I hurriedly turned over the exam paper, and……… It wasn’t there. The question I so confidently knew, well it wasn’t there. The topic I’d really struggled to memorise? It was essay question 1.
So the moral of that boring little tale is that if I had started to understand/believe in/trust that God gives us signs and directions, I am now firmly back to square 1. I mean I know that’s a pretty menial example, but seriously though, how do we know when God is trying to direct our path or give us a sign?