Signs from God

 

I’ve been to Prince of Peace Home for Girls on the outskirts of Guatemala City twice now, and they recently shared a story on Facebook I’d like to share with you. Call it a parable if you will.

 

Prince of Peace home for Girls is an orphanage where over 40 young ladies and girls reside. The love of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit really does change lives for the better there. 

 

About ten days ago, on their way to school, the Prince of Peace bus had a little mechanical problem. The orphanage’s beloved bus driver/bus mechanic/maintenance man/carpenter/groundskeeper/kindly jack-of-all-trades guy Don Miguel stopped and quickly got to work fixing the bus. The girls just as quickly noticed that the bus had come to a stop right next to a park with slides and swings and all sorts of stuff young ladies enjoy very much. So they asked the tias (“Tia” is the Spanish word for “aunt” which is what they call the ladies who watch over them, guide them, protect them, and teach them.) if they could get out and play in the park. The tias agreed and the girls got to go out and have fun in the park under the supervision of the tias. 

 

Don Miguel was able to fix the bus in fairly short order, so all the girls and the tias got back on the bus when he was done and they were safely delivered to their destination.

 

The End.

 

On a seemingly-unrelated note, I know a guy (Let’s call him “Bob.”) who has been organizing successful short-term mission trips for about 25 years. He and I were recently talking about people who are considering going on a mission trip, but won’t commit to it until they’ve had “a sign from God.”

 

Bob’s usual reply is something like, “Well, okay, I respect that, but why would God not want you to go and tell people about Jesus?” 

 

Perhaps you see where I’m going with these two little parables. In the first story, neither the girls, nor the tias, nor Don Miguel sought any kind of sign or confirmation from God that the girls should go play in the park. Nobody asked God if the bus breaking down right next to a park was a sign from God. There was no casting of lots, no calling out to the prophet Samuel for direction, no laying out of fleeces to await a drenching or non-drenching of dew, and not even any mention of prayer. (Although, knowing the tias as I do, I am not going to categorically state there was no prayer. In point of fact, I’m pretty sure those tias are praying continuously.)

 

Now, I will grant you that a mission trip seems like a much bigger deal than more than 40 girls going out to play on a playground in Guatemala, but their are absolutely plenty of opportunities for things to go horribly sideways in a hurry under circumstances like that. 

 

And so now we come to faith.

 

If we truly believe that God is who He says He is, what are we worried about? If Jesus can stand up in the boat and calm the storm when the professional fisherman piloting the craft are certain we are all going to die and very soon, why are we of so little faith?

 

Don’t get me wrong here. Asking for guidance and direction from the LORD of heaven and earth who created the entire universe and everything in it simply by speaking it into being is a very, very good thing. We absolutely should be doing that!

 

We should judge the tree by its fruit. We should test the spirits, just like our Bibles say was should.

 

But, there should be a balance.

 

We should also know that not making a choice, or delaying making that choice for too long, is indeed making a choice.

 

The more I roll this around in my head, the more inclined I am to just come right out and say I think our initial response to do God’s will, to bring Him glory, or to bless others should be a nearly immediate and impulsive, “Yes, LORD!”

 

At the very least, I think He deserves an, “Okay, God.”

 

I say that with a crystal-clear picture of Mr. Impulsive himself, the Apostle Peter, in my head leaning over the edge of a boat on a windy night on the Sea of Galilee when everyone in the boat thought they saw a ghost, but the ghost claimed to be Jesus: 

 

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” he said.

Matthew 14:27-29. (NIV)

 

At this point, I absolutely cannot resist pointing out that Jesus called Peter with one word: “Come.”

 

And Peter did NOT respond with, “Are you sure? Can I get some kind of sign, Lord?”

 

Nope, he was over the side and out of that boat walking straight for Jesus!

 

Now, whenever this story is told, we all rush to the part where Peter took his eyes off Jesus and he started to sink and Jesus had to reach down and catch him, but the point here is that Peter got out of the boat and walked on water!

 

Nobody else got out of the boat and went for a stroll across the waves.

 

Only Peter.

 

And, if you read the story carefully, it doesn’t say Jesus carried Peter back to the boat. Verse 32 says:

 

“And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.”

 

They climbed into the boat. Peter walked back to the boat with Jesus!

 

We should also not forget that, unlike water-walking Peter, and unlike Gideon, and unlike Samuel and all the Old Testament prophets, we have the entire New Testament filled with red letters and the wisdom of Holy Spirit-inspired guidance and direction from actual apostles to help us make decisions like this. For example:

 

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 (NIV)

 

As if that weren’t enough, we also have the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide us! 

 

I think the problem we have (at least it often seems true for me) is that we often think of God as this big, booming KJV voice on Mount Sinai with a burning bush in the background intoning to Charleton Heston, “MOSES! MOSES! DRAW NOT HIGH HITHER: PUT OFF THY SHOES FROM OFF THY FEET, FOR THE PLACE WHEREON THOU STANDEST IS HOLY GROUND!” (Exodus 3:5 KJV)

 

I do not write that disrespectfully to the Lord at all. I absolutely believe that God spoke to Moses in that way. (No, I don’t mean in fifteenth-century English in all caps.) But I think that there is a part of us that really wants the voice of God to be that dramatic, Hollywood-inspired booming fall-to-our-knees voice because the still, small voice He usually uses is something we are afraid we’re going to miss. I think we want soaking wet fleeces and lakes going flat in the middle of the storm and burning bushes so there can be no doubt, no mistaking what just happened. I think there is a part of us that wants a God of drama.

 

But the thing is, I think what God wants are people of faith. I think God wants people who know His heart and that His love is so wide, so long, so high, so deep that they are willing to impulsively step out of the boat into the crashing waves and walk straight to Jesus, even if it seems impossible or foolish. 

 

I think God smiles at the thought of orphans playing on the swings while Don Miguel fixes the bus because the tias trust God to watch over those girls and protect them. I think children who grow up around people who love and trust God enough to not be afraid of what could happen, that they allow what does happen to be to His glory, will grow up to be people who will love and trust God and will eventually raise children who will love and trust God.  

 

And from that, I can see the kingdom of God grow from that tiny seed of faith to an enormous tree of life that burns and glows with His love and is never extinguished.

 

From that, I can see a people who make other people wonder and want to know, “Who is this God that these people love and trust so much that they are willing to do whatever He asks, go wherever He sends them, and love everyone He puts in their path?”

 

 

Today’s Praise

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:21-22 (NLT)

 

(Photo used by permission of Prince of Peace Home for Girls.)

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