Thursday, September 10, 2009

Signs along they way

Our lives are personal journeys; we don't start out with a roadmap or even a particular destination in mind, but we make it step-by-step and day-by-day.

Sometimes we stand at a crossroads, puzzling over what choice to make or what direction to follow. At times, the choices are easy; some decisions are made for us by parents when we are young or by circumstances when we get older. Other decisions require a lot of thought and prayer.

More often than we realize, we're given signs along the way. God uses subtle, everyday objects to help guide us along life's paths. And He uses Big Bang, Knock-You-Over-The-Head tactics as well. We arent often tuned in to His signs. I wonder, sometimes, if He watches us stumbling around here, waltzing all around what He desires for us to do, ignoring the hints He's strewn in our paths. He probably rolls His eyes at us sometimes, as we miss even the most obvious signposts every now and then.

I remember wrestling with a life-changing situation a few years ago, trying to make a choice between equally difficult situations. I began to pray, asking God to make it obvious to me what road I should take. Sure enough, very soon I received an answer. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I had to make a move, I knew I had to start over, I knew it was a matter of life or death for me. It was the hardest decision I've ever had to make, but it was the best choice I have ever made. That sounds like an oxymoron, but looking back, I see clearly that for me it was the right option. I believe it was the only healthy option I had.

The sign came on a Saturday. As I sat alone at my home, surrounded with a mountain of hopelessness, I heard in my spirit "Get Out NOW!" The feeling in my gut was unmistakable. By Monday I had rented an apartment and had the utilities turned on. And by Tuesday night I had moved out. As I lay alone in my bed that first night, I felt a peaceful blanket of comfort fall over me, tucking me into the peace that comes when you are satisfied that you've done the right thing.

About a week after I moved into that apartment by myself, I drove by my old home. Some guys from the highway department worked beside the road, erecting two new signs. As I slowed down to read them, I laughed out loud! "Wrong Way" and "Do Not Enter" warnings were posted on either side of my old driveway (and they are still there today)! Who says God doesn't have a sense of humor? He literally placed roadsigns to give me confirmation!

Signs can come in the form of friends. My husband has a dear friend he met long ago. He and Leslie were seatmates on a train from Florida up the East Coast. They began to chat, sharing some of their stories, and exchanged email addresses as they parted. They've remained in contact, encouraging one another throughout the years. She was one of the first people to really encourage him to write his book, "Sowing and Reaping A Fearless Heart: Convicted Not Condemned." Last year, we stopped in Jacksonville and had brunch with her and her husband one morning. Again this past week, we visited in their home and shared lunch together. David & Leslie have seen each other "in person" a grand total of 3 times -- but they are important markers in each other's lives.

I also have friends like this -- Aliza, for example, who limped along with me through a divorce, making me laugh and encouraging me. Cathy, who has always "been there" even in the rough times, to load up a truck or to prop me up. And God uses another Cathy, who is handicapped and trapped forever in a 9-year-old's brain, reminds me to me to never give up and always be joyful by sending me pages she's colored in the mail. And then there's Sylv, my email pal from Australia. We met 9 years ago tomorrow on "THE 9-11" as she posted a note of sympathy and encouragement to her American friends on a huge inspirational group that we both belonged to -- and I responded with a thank you. She's been my confidante and most definitely a guidepost for me in this life!

I've never thought of myself as being a sign to someone else, but this summer in Ghana I received two surprise gifts that have caused me to look at myself a bit differently. Both were wood carvings; the first was given to me at Jerusalem Gates School. Our ministry has "adopted" this school, where most of the students live in the Tema Garbage Dump. If we can keep these precious ones in school, they can get at least one good meal a day that is not scavenged from the trash and they can have a chance at a better future. You know it just isnt right for a child to have to plunder through garbage, competing with dogs for food.

The headmaster gave us a carving of a pregnant woman, carrying a load on her head, using a stick to prop herself up.

He explained that the woman symbolized Jerusalem Gates Academy, struggling under the load of trying to educate these dump children who have so little. She is pregnant with promise -- a birthing place for the future for her boys and girls. But she is weary, and needs some help. So someone has given her a stick. The stick holds her up, gives her strength, offers her support. Our ministry, he said, is that stick -- strengthening Jerusalem Gates, helping her to stand. The carving hangs on the wall in our home now, and each time I see it, I am reminded of those kids and how God uses us and the people who support our ministry there to help them.

The other gift was given to me by Christ Harvests The Nations Ministry, my "home church" in Ghana. It is a carving of "The Oracle" -- the one who sounds the horn, to let people know about great things.

As Reverend James and Chief Takyi gave me the carving, they reminded me that when CHNM was a brand new ministry, I was a part of one of the first visiting teams -- and I went home and began to tell others what God was doing in Ghana, bringing more people to visit, writing "Two Watches." The Oracle reminds me that I have a voice and a responsibility -- I have to let people know of God's goodness, mercy, love, and grace!

We each experience "signs and wonders" -- and signs that make us wonder -- as we travel through life. While there have been "Oracles" and "Sticks" that God has placed in front of me that I've become aware of -- I know that there are so many more that I've been totally oblivious to. And I realize that God has used me -- sometimes as an "Oracle," sometimes as a "stick," and perhaps in other ways -- as a sign to other people.

So my silver lining today has a challenge for both you and me: Have you seen a sign from God lately? Are you really looking? The Bible promises blessings to us -- some of them come wrapped in unusual packages (like struggles -- which make us stronger). We should expect those blessings! Let's open our eyes to the signs and wonders, the "Oracles and Stick" that God is using to point the way for us!

Blessings, y'all!

1 comment:

Aliza said...

Very cool post Silver!
I think our missions here on earth are to help each other in whatever ways we can.