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[caption id="attachment_171381" align="aligncenter" width="1180"]"Asking for signs" by Charlene Rack (CatholicMom.com) Image: Pixabay.com (2015), CC0/PD[/caption]

You shall not put the LORD, your God, to the test, as you did at Massah. (Deuteronomy 6:16)

Sometimes people will quote this verse to me as a bit of a reprimand, because I’m the kind of person who asks God for signs, especially when I’m trying to make a big decision. When I refute this quote for no mention of the word “signs,” they throw out this one:

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to (Jesus), “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.”

He said to them in reply, “An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet.” (Matthew 12:38-39)

But, is Jesus referring to the same kinds of signs that I’m talking about? I really don’t think so, because, when I do ask for my “road signs,” I get bombarded with them!

Years ago, near the end of my studies for the Lay Pastoral Ministry Program, I needed God’s guidance about what to do for the obligatory final project. It was supposed to be challenging, while meeting an essential and tangible need. I was still relatively new to the Catholic faith at that point, and I couldn’t think of anything. So I asked God for obvious, impossible-to-miss guidance. I waited a few weeks ... still nothing. Then I rented a random movie for entertainment, “Children of a Lesser God,” a 1986 production starring William Hurt.

I was halfway through that movie when suddenly it hit me like a ton of bricks. There was no doubt in my mind that the Holy Spirit had used that movie to speak to my heart. My first thought was, “Wow, how very cool! God wants me to do my project for deaf Catholics!” My second thought was, “Wait ... WHAT?! I know nothing about the local deaf community. I have no contacts. Why would you pick me for that job?”

But God continued to make it very clear to me. Over the next several weeks, I saw “signs” everywhere I went, things that I had never seen before in my life. I was walking around downtown, and I looked up to see a mom using sign language with her young son. Driving on the highway, a school bus drove past. I looked up, and the kids were all chatting away, via sign language. At a concert, there was an interpreter for the deaf (which was not a very common occurrence back then). Then, I actually saw a billboard depicting ASL (American Sign Language) hand signs (can’t remember what the gist of the advertisement was, but I can remember my shock and amusement...God uses billboards!). Literally every few days, I would see something that pulled my mind back to a project for local deaf Catholics. My husband starting joking about it. “Look! It’s a sign ... language!”

I reached a point where I was saying, “OK, Holy Spirit, I got it. You can move on now,” but the holy ambush didn’t end until I had made some lucrative connections in the deaf community, signed up for an ASL class, and submitted my project proposal. After taking an extra year to complete that project (because my first two children were born during that time, only sixteen months apart, the second one being a preemie), I had to drop out of the group and let my committee carry on without me. At the time, I felt really bad abandoning them, but it turns out that’s just what they had needed, someone to form them into a group, connect them to the right people in the Archdiocese, and turn them loose! I was told years later, by someone from the archdiocese, that I would be amazed by everything that came about from my project. All because I asked God for “signs,” and trusted them when they came.

I had a similar experience when I first felt the call to home school our children. My husband thought I was crazy, so, once again, I asked for signs. Home schooling encouragement came my way from every imaginable direction, with the most amazing and perfectly timed executions. I often was brought to tears, or rendered speechless. We started home schooling and never looked back.

So, based on these experiences, I can say, without hesitation, go ahead and ask God for signs, but, to save yourself any trouble from Bible savvy advisers, just refer to those signs as guidance (because you and I know, when we say signs, we’re not being Pharisees, trying to test our omnipotent God, we’re just offering ourselves to God, and trying to do what He asks of us. If still in doubt, read a few saint stories, and you’ll realize that we’re in very good company!).

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Copyright 2020 Charlene Rack