Have you ever felt confused or ambivalent about something you were working on, and asked God for a sign? Something that would show you what you were supposed to do, or at least let you know that you were on the right track.

I know several people who are very prayerful and who occasionally – or regularly – ask God for such a sign. And they usually get one.

I’m not in the habit of asking God for signs. It’s not because I don’t think he’ll give me one, and it’s certainly not because I’ve never been confused or unsure of what to do next. It’s just that it feels to me, at some level, that asking God for a sign is like asking him to do the work I should be responsible for – analyzing the situation and making the best decision I can with whatever information I’ve got. It also strikes me as a bit of a contradiction in terms, like bragging about being humble, or asking God for patience – right now. With regard to signs, it feels like I’m saying, “I believe in you. But I need proof.”

Even though I rarely ask God for specific signs, I constantly ask him for help and guidance. My prayers often include requests such as, “Please show me the path you want me to follow.” Or, “Please guide me in whatever it is you want me to do.”

So it actually caught me by surprise recently when, in the middle of a prayer, I found myself saying, “Please give me a sign, so I know what I’m supposed to do.”

I was on my way to the meeting of an organization I was familiar with, but was not a member of. I had met and crossed paths with some of the group’s members at other meetings and events, and I knew that this organization’s purpose, mission, and vision were very much in keeping with my own. I was aware of how much I could both give and gain as a member of the organization, but I was also aware that the time commitment would likely cut into time I needed to spend on the work and organizations I was already committed to, and that were helping me to achieve my own goals and dreams.

Attending the meeting was not making a commitment to join, but I knew that was the ultimate intention – which is why, as I drove to the meeting that morning, I asked God for a sign. I asked for something to happen at the meeting that would tell me whether or not I should join the organization.

I didn’t get a sign from God during the meeting. I got six. They came in the form of things that people said – not in the subjects that were being discussed, but in the specific words that were used. On six different occasions, people used words or phrases that were directly related to a book I am writing, a speech I’m preparing, a subject I’ve been researching, a dilemma I’ve been facing, a question I’ve been pondering, and a project I’m beginning.

My problem now is that even though I recognized the signs, I’m not sure what they were telling me. Possibly that the organization will fit in smoothly with the other things I am doing in my life. Or that I should be spending my time on those other things instead of adding one more to them.
I have to laugh as I think about what I asked for and what I got. It’s as if I asked God for a sign, hoping it would tell me which of two paths to follow, and instead I got a sign telling me there’s a fork in the road up ahead.

Still, it gave me a little more focus and clarity than I had before. It didn’t tell me which way to go, but it reminded me of what I should look at and take into consideration as I make my decision.
I’m sure there will be many more times throughout my life’s journey when I’ll feel lost or confused, ambivalent or uncertain. Whenever it happens, I’ll look for signs and signals that can help point me in the right direction. But instead of asking God to show me those signs, I’ll just continue to ask him for help and guidance in my travels. That’s all I really need anyway.

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on February 7, 2013.
©Betty Liedtke, 2013

I welcome your comments on this column. Please be aware that all comments will be moderated and approved before appearing on this blog. This is to protect all of us from unwanted spam.