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When I was a little girl, feeling lost or confused, I would talk to God and ask for a sign to show me everything was going to be okay.
As I got older, I put that silliness away for the most part. But superstitions aside, I do still believe that God can speak to us through signs that are meaningful to us. Synchronicities and coincidences at just the right time can support and confirm us. But what about asking for signs like I did as a child? Two unique circumstances taught me valuable lessons.
My Stories of Asking God to Give Me Signs
It was a cloudy night. Not a star could be seen. I was ruminating, waiting on the results of a serious medical test. I stepped outside and looked up at the evening sky. The child in me asked, “God, if everything is going to be alright, please give me a sign. Let me find just one star behind all these clouds and mist.” The test was on. Surely I would be able to find one tiny star to save me. I scoured the leaden sky. Not a one. I went to the front of our house. Nothing. I circumambulated our home entirely. My heart sank. I had days to wait on the test results, and now my fears were worse than ever.
Then a blissful thought popped into my mind and rescued me. It didn’t matter how many clouds were in the sky, or if I was able to find a star. I didn’t need to see a star because whether I saw one or not, I knew that logically, they were there, hiding behind those clouds. This was fact. My epiphany was that I didn’t need to see something to believe in it, and in this case to know it. My goal was to strive now for this level of faith; not vague wishing or hoping, but an absolute knowing:
Mankind is notoriously too dense to read the signs that God sends from time to time. We require drums to be beaten into our ears, before we should wake from our trance and hear the warning and see that to lose oneself in all, is the only way to find oneself. – Mahatma Gandhi
Verily I say, the human soul is, in its essence, one of the signs of God, a mystery among His mysteries. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 160.
Years passed, and I found myself having to deal with people who made me feel exceedingly insecure. Since these people were not leaving my life anytime soon, I knew it would not be an easy fix. I had to change the way I felt about myself and not expect anyone else to change.
My husband and I decided to spend the weekend in the mountains. Still feeling insecure, I even questioned God’s love for me. Since it is always my greatest delight to see the deer when we visit the mountains I thought, “God, if I am good and worthy, please let me see a deer sometime this weekend.”
Throughout the two-hour drive up I viewed a majestic forest, a surging river and a turquoise sky, but not one deer. No matter, we had three days ahead of us. But as each day passed, my spirits sank. Though illogical, these debilitating thoughts pervaded a good bit of our trip. Finally, our last day came. It was time to leave. As we drove down the mountain, I searched the side of the road and saw nothing but brush. We passed far beyond where deer would normally be seen. Utterly disheartened, I let go of all hope. Then a realization hit me like a bombshell. I felt ashamed and ridiculous. I should not expect God to send me signs on demand. How presumptuous of me! I told myself I should never do this again.
Within minutes something happened that took my breath away. Heavy traffic slowed to a halt on one of the curves of the mountain road. All of sudden and out of nowhere a large buck walked out in front of our car, stopped and looked in at us and then slowly proceeded across the road. For a few minutes I sat in disbelief and awe. My heart flooded with divine love and overwhelming joy.
Why I Stopped Asking God to Show Me a Sign
After lessons in humility and trust, I did get my confirmations—but it was on God’s terms, in God’s time. Besides learning that I should not challenge God by demanding signs, I learned that God has His own way of showing His love, better than anything I could dream up or request. My job, I realized, is to cultivate a faith so strong that it is knowing. Now I don’t ask for signs—but I keep my eyes open:
We are always looking for signs. We are always asking for God to speak to us. But those signs are all around us. They are in everything. God is always speaking. The question is whether we are listening. – Yasmin Mogahed
Every created thing in the whole universe is but a door leading into His knowledge, a sign of His sovereignty, a revelation of His names, a symbol of His majesty, a token of His power, a means of admittance into His straight Path. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 160.