When you’re on an unfamiliar road, a sign can be the most reassuring sight in the world. It may not map out the whole route ahead and it may not show you the trials and difficulties you will encounter along the way, but just to know you’re heading in the right direction is a huge comfort that can motivate you to keep going.
It’s true spiritually as well. There are times when God knows that we just need a sign- not because we’re doubting him, just because we need to know we’re on the right track.
Just over a year ago, I was asked to take on a task that I knew was going to be one of the biggest challenges I had ever faced. I felt inadequate and I felt terrified, but I also felt obliged. I won’t go into detail but the situation had become a bit of a crisis, and there really was no-one else to sort it out.
I was also under pressure to make a quick decision, but there were so many questions and uncertainties:
- Was God really calling me to this?
- Was I really up to the task? I didn’t feel I was at all.
- How was it going to work out?
- Who was going to help me? If this project was going to work out there were key people needed to make it happen and I didn’t have any idea where to even begin to look for those people.
I’m the sort of person that likes to be sure of exactly where I’m heading before I set off on a journey, and to know the route I’m going to take, but I could see that was impossible in this situation. I was never going to see in advance exactly how it would work out.
More than anything though, I just wanted to know- to know if God actually wanted me to do this. I didn’t want to do it just because I felt I had to; if I was going to do it, I wanted it to be because he was calling me.
I’m grateful for the advice of my wonderful friend, who told me to ignore the pressure to decide immediately, and to wait and to pray. The decision could at least wait until tomorrow…
…Because later, as I was flicking through my Bible, looking for something entirely different, it was as if these verses jumped out and hit me between the eyes. They come from 1 Chronicles 28:20-21, as David gives Solomon instructions for building the Temple:
“Then David continued, “Be strong and courageous and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. He will see to it that all the work related to the Temple of the Lord is finished correctly. The various divisions of priests and Levites will serve in the Temple of God. Others with skills of every kind will volunteer, and the officials and the entire nation are at your command.”
Straight away I knew. God was calling. He was with me. He would see the work completed correctly. He would provide the people. Despite the fact that I felt inadequate, it was what I had to do. So I agreed.
And God knew I would need that sign: when the road became rough and bumpy and it felt like everything was falling apart, when people took on tasks and then pulled out, when the way forward looked impossible, it was what would keep me going, knowing that I was on the right road.
There were times when, as I looked around me, all the evidence shouted that this was the wrong way, that I should turn back now, when the voice in my head told me I should just give up- that I was never going to get there. But that sign was the whisper of truth that kept me going: “It is my work. I will bring it to completion.”
And God was faithful. As I expected, it was a journey which challenged me in many ways, but it was also an amazing time of letting go of control and growing in faith, of coming to the end of my own ability and recognising my reliance on God, of finding the courage to make difficult decisions and step out in trust.
In the end it all worked out, but I could never have done it without that sign.