In June, my sister and I will go on a road trip together. We are taking our Mother’s remains back for burial next to my father.
I love road trips. I love maps. I love road signs.
Even though this trip has a shadow of grief, there will be joy in sharing this journey with my sister.
And she loves maps as I do. While she was here recently, we bought a map for the provinces we will travel through. There is something about a paper map that no app can replace. It shows the big picture and the way through from the start to the finish.
And there will be signs, lots of signs. Signs warning of road conditions, signs telling of exits, signs directing us to food, gas, and lodging.
What would we do without maps and signs? We would find ourselves lost, that’s what.
I can say the same of our spiritual journey.
The Bible makes many references to signs, Isaiah talked about warning signs and hope signs from the God of Angel Armies. (The Message translation)
We all understand what warning signs are. Danger lies ahead; don’t touch, for risk of electrical shock. No swimming, rip tides. We have warnings signs everywhere. And, there are those who ignore warning signs to their detriment.
In the time of Moses
It was the same in the bible, the greatest example was the signs God gave through Moses to the Egyptian Pharoah. He would send plagues if Pharoah would not free the people of Israel from slavery. Eventually, Pharoah freed the Israelites, but only after causing great suffering for his people because of the plagues.
There were also many signs of hope given by God to the Israelites as he led them through the desert to the promised land. But despite all the miracles he performed on their behalf, providing food and water in the desert, appearing as a pillar of fire during the night and a pillar of smoke during the day to guide them. These things he did for them, yet they still proved themselves as people who didn’t trust him. As a result, all those who saw the signs and wonders would die, before the people of Israel would see the promised land. A whole generation would wander in the desert because they didn’t trust God.
In Jesus’ time
Jesus too was a man who created God-signs, and the Gospel of John says that in spite of all the signs people still didn’t trust him. And his followers performed many signs and wonders too after Jesus rose from the dead.
In our time
Miracles still happen today. People are healed from illnesses, broken relationships find healing, lives that have been broken through cruel experiences are restored to wholeness.
I have been using The Message translation for the Bible of late, mainly because it says things differently from previous translations, bringing new meaning and inspiration to my soul.
A particular inspiration, a true God-sign of hope, can be found in Psalm 119: 29-31 where the psalmist asks: “God barricade the road to Nowhere and grace me with your clear revelation. I choose the true road to Somewhere. I post your road signs at every curve and corner.”
If we get right down to the heart of the matter all God-signs are signs of Hope. It is just a matter of our perspective. Do we trust the heart of God, do we see his signs as warnings from an angry ruler, or do we see those same signs as signs of hope, from a loving and caring Father?
The psalmist’s request of God in Psalm 119 is my prayer too. Will it be yours?
As we journey home to bury our mother, I will look upon road signs a little differently I think.