Everywhere a Sign

Apr 28, 2023 by Colleen C Orchanian

I call this post “Everywhere a Sign," which I took from an old song from the 60’s. Sign, Sign, everywhere a sign. This came to mind at Mass the other day when we had a reading about the Pharisees asking Jesus for a sign. They wanted him to prove that he was the Messiah. In fact, by the time they asked for the sign, he had already given many signs. He had already been baptized by John in the Jordan when the Holy Spirit came down and God the Father spoke from the cloud. He had turned the water into wine in Cana. He had healed tons of people from their ailments. He had fed the thousands more than once. How many more signs did they need?

That was then. This is now. We didn’t walk with Jesus when he lived on this earth as a human person. That makes it even more difficult for us to have faith. And there are many people who are still looking for a sign. As I pondered that story, I wondered what kinds of signs people are looking for today. Here are four that came to mind.

  1. Show me a sign, God, that you are real. If you’re like me, you know people who have asked for a sign that God is real, and you have to wonder what kind of a sign would be good enough to convince them. The famous author, Emil Zola, was a devout atheist who went to Lourdes to prove it was fake. He brought with him an 18-year old girl who had three incurable diseases. She was healed completely in his sight. He then saw a second person enter the waters and be completely healed. So he saw two miracles with his own eyes, and still refused to believe. He claimed to need a sign, but two miraculous signs wouldn’t convince him. You might remember that Jesus once said, even if someone were to rise from the dead they would not believe. The thing is, there are signs all around us every day that God is real. Creation itself is one of those signs. We just have to open our eyes. That’s what Jesus did when he healed the blind people. That miracle represents curing of our spiritual blindness. Maybe you had your spiritual blindness cured at some point in your life. If you have a relationship with God, you have experienced a miracle.
  2. A sign that God is a good God, especially in a time of suffering. God is good. All the time. But we live in a world that is not good all the time. The evil we experience is an absence of God, an absence of the good. When we have a heavy cross, we ask God to show us that he still loves us, that he is still there, that he has not abandoned us. I have a friend who sometimes complains that she has nobody to help her. Since I know her situation, I know that is not true, but she cannot see it. She wants God to show her he loves her and doesn’t realize that he has, in fact, done just that many times each day. She doesn’t see the signs and therefore is not grateful for the good people in her life. If you are in a time of suffering or have a heavy cross, what signs might you get that God is good and is with you? How about an offer of help from someone, a smile or kind word, a gift you didn’t expect. Each of these ways that people reach out to you is a sign of God’s love. It is God working through those people to show His love. 
  3. When we need to make a decision. There is a great story of Gideon in the Bible. God gave him a mission and he doubted, so he asked God for a sign with a fleece. God did what Gideon asked, but Gideon still doubted. He changed the sign and asked God to confirm the next day, which God did. So Gideon did what God had asked him to do. He was open to the sign but needed confirmation. I asked God for a sign when I was considering retirement. I committed to make the decision by the end of February (this was 2 years ago). I asked God to make it clear that retirement was what He wanted. I prayed about it every day and didn’t get a clear sign. I was hoping for a deep commanding voice saying, Yes Colleen- you can retire. But that didn’t happen. On the last day of February, I had a strong sense that I needed to retire. I wasn’t really happy about it because I loved my job. But I knew I was supposed to let it go. I can see now, two years later, that it was the right decision. I could not have done what I’m doing now if I was still working, and I know I am doing what God wants me to do now. So I got a sign, even though it wasn’t the one I expected. Sometimes we have to be open to the sign God wants to give rather than the sign we want to see.
  4. When we want to know if we are on the right path. Most of us want to do God’s will. So we begin to do what we think we should and hope for confirmation along the way that we got it right. My podcast is an example of that. My son, Tommy, actually suggested it. When I first heard the suggestion I rejected it.  What do I know about making a podcast? The answer was nothing. I didn’t have the technical knowledge and I could easily get discouraged if the learning curve was too long. But God gave me signs along the way that this was His will. He gave me something to say. He gave me people to help me figure out the technical stuff. (Thank you Connor and Leanna!)  And he confirms that it’s His will when I hear good feedback from listeners. All of these things are signs that I’m on the right path. We all want that – a sign that we’re on the right path, that what we’re doing is pleasing to God. Open your eyes and I’ll bet you will see signs, because they are there.

I want to add a caution here. Sometimes we think we have a sign but it’s only a desire or a feeling. Our feelings can be misleading. Our desires can be misleading. These desires can come from one of three places:

  1. God.  If our desire is for more of Him, it is from God.
  2. Our own ego. If I am seeking personal achievement or notoriety or just my own way, that’s not a sign from God.
  3. The devil. Desires that come from the devil lead us to sin or distancing from God.

So be aware of the danger of following your feelings rather than God’s will.

There are signs from God every single day. God has signs for YOU every single day. Are you looking for them? I once had a dog named Brutus – he was a doberman. One day we brought home a new dog and Brutus was not happy about it. He was so unhappy that he turned his head away from me and would not look at me. I took his head in my hands and turned it towards me. He would not look me in the eye. When I let go of his head, he turned it away again. It was as if he was saying to me, You’re dead to me. He did not like another dog coming into his home.

Sometimes we are like Brutus. God shows us a sign and we turn our head away. We don’t want to see it. It doesn’t mean the sign isn’t there. It is. Emile Zola could not see the miracles that happened in front of his own eyes. We cannot be like that. When we open our eyes to God’s signs, we will be overwhelmed with how many there are. Many years ago I had three signs from three different priests who told me the same thing, and I wanted to reject those signs because I wanted to do my own thing. But finally I surrendered to God’s will. I saw the sign. I wonder how many signs God has sent you this day. That’s something to think about.

Here are some questions to help you bring this to prayer:

  1. What are some of the signs from God that you have seen in your life or maybe some that you have ignored but can see in hindsight?
  2. What sign do you desire now and why?