I read a pretty interesting passage of scripture this morning:
“Ask the Lord your God for a sign of confirmation…Make it as difficult as you want – as high as heaven or as deep as the place of the dead.”
Isaiah 7:11 NLT
My first thought after reading this command was “Really? Do we really get to do that?” Do we really get to ask God to give us a sign along the path to show us we are headed the right direction?
Cause if that’s true – then that is awesome.
Because if I’m honest, sometimes I have a lot of questions. I wonder if I’m doing the right things. I wonder if the things I’m believing for are actually what God has for me or if I’ve dug my heals in somewhere along the way and I’m literally “barking up the wrong tree.” I wonder if I should do something different or try a different path or scrap the whole darn thing and start over.
And this isn’t just in big matters. I wonder if my approach to my kids struggles is the right approach or if I’m just making it worse. Most days I equally wonder if I should be doing more for the Kingdom or if Jesus is shaking His head at all my plate spinning and simply wants me to chill out, sit down, and stop working so hard. I wonder if I should say more or say less. Reach out or give space. Go right or left or in or out or up or down. It’s hard to be me, people.
I admire people who always seem to feel confident about things. They seem to have this inner compass that assures them that they are making the right decisions. And even if they are wrong, they will go down swinging while yelling, “Just wait and see… I know I’m right!”
And so the idea that I could ask God for a sign as a “confirmation” is a pretty appealing idea to this girl riddled with self-doubt.
And as I studied deeper, I realized that the giving on signs was a tool that God uses to encourage His children and BUILD UP the faith we already have. The Bible is FULL of moments when God speaks to someone, and then gives them a sign to confirm to them what He has said.
Now, this can be confusing, because there are also moments in scripture when people ask for a sign and they are reprimanded for it. So what’s the deal with that? Are we allowed to ask or not? I’m a girl who likes to follow the rules… so I needed a little clarification on this point.
And what I discovered, is that when people where were chastised for asking a sign, they weren’t asking God out of a place of faith. They weren’t doubting themselves and asking for confirmation, they were doubting HIM and were trying to prove that HE WAS NOT CAPABLE of doing the things He had said. The Pharisees asked Jesus for a sign – but they were trying to discredit him. They didn’t think He could do it – so they essentially said “Prove it.” It was a classic bully showdown… and Jesus just wasn’t going to take the bait.
But when we look at other stories in the Bible, we see God graciously, eagerly giving signs to His children. Like the story of Gideon in Judges 5-6. Oh man… is Gideon a man after my own heart. God asks him to lead his people against an army and in this encounter in scripture I actually laughed out loud at how many times Gideon says something along the lines of “Are you sure?” “I’m too weak” “If you really mean this, give me a sign,” and “Please don’t be angry with me – but can I have ANOTHER sign?” Gideon is my spirit animal.
But the interesting thing I learned today as I studied this story, was that when Gideon asked for a sign, and the Lord provided one, Gideon’s faith was strengthened. And he took that strength, received it, and used it to take the next step that God wanted Him to do. The sign was a FAITH BUILDER. It was a STRENGTH GENERATOR. It was a tool that God used to make this weak, insecure man a great warrior.
God continually challenges me in the area of doubt in my heart. I’m so quick to look at the mountain in front of me and sit down in frustration and discouragement. And yet I want to be a woman of great faith. And so many times I feel like I have to muster up more faith on my own.
And what I love about this story, is it shows that God PARTICIPATES in building our faith. He’s not just on the sidelines shaking His head at how easily we become overwhelmed. He knows the road is steep and treacherous and really hard to navigate sometimes. So He simply walks before us and drops little breadcrumbs. He doesn’t take away every obstacle or give us a color coded map… but He puts a sign in front of us to remind us that He is there and that we’re on the right path.
So today, I’m asking for a sign. A few of them actually. Something that shows me I’m on the right path and reminds me that God is going before me. A confirmation of the promises God has made to me and to my family. And I am believing that He is going to give them to me.
It doesn’t have to be overly miraculous – a breadcrumb will do.