Sunday Reflections – Signs! Signs! Everywhere are signs!

NOTE: This post was originally published in December 2011 and is one of the first posts on this blog. I am republishing it for two reasons. First, it has a great message. Second, I have been sick in bed for the last 30 hours and not able to write a new Sunday Reflections (nor do I want to reflect on this past Sunday). But, I am finally on the mend, I think. Hope you enjoy this post from the archives. I will be back with a new post on Wednesday.

Signs! Signs! Everywhere are Signs!

When traveling from one place to another, there are a variety of signs instructing us where to go, where not to go and how fast we should or should not get there. The road of life has a lot of signs too with much the same purposes. Sometimes we ignore signs and hope we’ll never get caught, but sometimes we actually use them to help us get and stay healthy and productive. Quite often, the signs that help us the most are the ones that at first seem the most inconvenient or even downright disruptive.

A job change. A child getting in trouble in school. A failing grade. A disgruntled spouse. A grumpy coworker. Our kids give us signs. So do our spouses, coworkers and even our pets. They let us know when they need our attention and when they need our help. Some signs are more obvious than others. Some are more critical and demand immediate attention, while others can wait. Sometimes, one sign in itself is not enough to cause us to alter our paths, but often many small signs added together can bring us to the crux of significant change.

An illness. A sports injury. Even just a headache. Our bodies give us signs too. They tell us when we’re tired and hungry. They give us signs to tell us when we’re too stressed and when we need physical activity. Ignore the signs, and we end up overtired, overweight and overwhelmed.

All of these events may seem simply like obstacles in the road we are traveling to our goals, but they are actually signs directing us to where we should place our energy and time. While God doesn’t cause bad events and circumstances to enter our lives, he does allow them as a way to direct our steps (Proverbs 16:9). They are signs directing us down a certain path. The path of compassion. The path of forgiveness. The path of time. The path of communication.

My challenge to you (and to myself) this week is to deliberately take time to assess the signs in your life. Is your body giving you signs signaling you to slow down, stop or even change directions? Are your kids giving you signs that are like rumble strips along the side of the road warning you to realign your relationship? Is your spouse or a friend giving you a yield sign indicating they need you to slow down and allow them to come along side of you to help you or to receive your help? Or maybe God is giving you a sign for a runaway ramp, a way out of a situation in which you feel trapped? (1 Corinthians 10:13) Whatever the signs and whatever their urgency, take time this week to assess them, pray about them and heed them.

There are often fines and other consequences for disobeying the signs when we are out traveling, and there are also “fines” of sorts and consequences for not heeding the signs in our lives as well. Make personal assessment a regular and intentional habit, and you’ll soon discover that when we focus on the journey rather than getting to the goal as quickly as possible that the ride is a lot less bumpy and a whole lot more productive and joy-filled.

DISCUSSION: What signs have you been ignoring that you know you need to follow?

22 thoughts on “Sunday Reflections – Signs! Signs! Everywhere are signs!

  1. You recently commented on my mental health story on my blog, so I clicked on the link to check out your blog. You are a really talented writer! And I love this post on Signs. It comes on a day I stayed home from work because of physical sickness after not listening to my body's signs. My husband I are exhausted and very stressed after I have packed our schedule to the brim over and over again. It is time to slow down. God has been trying to get our attention to slow down, and we have decided to re-evaluate our priorities to make more time for Him and for each other while saying no a lot more to other people's demands of our time. Thanks for writing this! God Bless!

    • Thank you for the comment & encouragement. Dr. Richard Swenson has several books on creating and maintaining "margin" in life that you may want to check out. I've got them listed as part of my reading goal for this year on my book club blog at http://www.ourlifeinbooks.weebly.com. The books might be helpful as you and your husband strive to "slow down." God is so pleased that you are recommitting to makign time for him!

  2. Pingback: Follow the Signs | Struggle to Victory

  3. I would say that it is easy to ignore signs because they don't scream at you, often are off to the side, and because sometimes the consequences for ignoring them do not occur right away. I think we have to train ourselves to look for signs especially the ones that occur often. The ones that occur often tend to get lost in the background so we have to work hard to not miss them. Let a child needing attention or an ache needing looked at.

    • Two great points Mark. First, to especially look for and heed the reoccurring signs. The Bible gives great examples of the power of repetition. Second, to work hard not to miss the ones we see often. Takes a deliberate and intentional approach to not miss them.

  4. Hi Kari, First of all, I hope you are continuing to feel better. This is a great post. We do need to watch the signs . . . and avoid the tendency we have to ignore the ones we don't like.

      • Hey Kari,
        One of my favorite all thing quotes is "People only see what they are only prepared to see". Ralph Waldo Emerson

          • I think it takes discipline to be able to fight against this bias. We have to be willing to look at how we view things and try to understand our own bias so that we can guard against them. We have to try to think outside of our own box we put our-self in. We also must guard against the bias that we judge things based on how we view the world and the tendency to think that everyone should be like us.

          • Explain this more, Mark. What specifically do you mean by "this bias"? I agree that we need to look at how we view things, to think outside of the box (comfort zone?) and to not judge others based on our own biases. Would like to further define the bias aspect though. Think it will make for good discussion.

          • :) Kari,
            This is a challenge as I find it difficult to articulate this well. In Luke 6 we are told not to judge and that the measure we use is the measure that will be used against us. Obviously indicating we all may have different measures or perhaps bias. I think "This bias" is the bias I introduce into everything based on the value I put on certain things. I tend to value those things highly that I am good at, that I like, that I spend time with and so on. I also place less value on those things that I struggle with, are not good at, and not exposed to. So my bias does not prepare me to see that those things that I place less value on either at all or in a good light. They may indeed be worthy and need to be paid attention to. I miss signs because I am lost in my bias.(I've got a plank by the way) I think we tend to view things not as they are but as we are. I have compassion on people who struggle with the things I struggle with and I think I am a pretty forgiven person because I have had to be forgiven alot. I tend to hold in contempt those people that can not handle the things I handle with ease and wonder why they are not "as spiritual". I think that reading God's word is the one great tool that helps define what is "real" in this life and what "matters" and what should be held in high esteem regardless if I am good at it or not or even feel comfortable with it. It teaches me what I should value and the measure I should really use.
            What do you think Kari?

          • Mark, I think that I need to think and pray about this more. Know that I am doing that and will respond to what you said. My not feeling good is hampering my thinking a bit. Plus, I think this is an issue I need to let percolate a bit in my spirit.

          • Did some praying & meditating on what you wrote, and I think what you're getting at is a crucial point in progressive sanctification or being made holy. We all have our unique points of views/perspectives, and they are what make us wonderfully who we are to a large extent. They fit our gifts and talents and abilities. But when we operate out of our POV and fail to live in God's POV, we start operating in bias and then what we're good and and like and don't like shadows everything we do and think and say, making us unable to appreciate or see or acknowledge another's POV. We fail to be open to see outside of our comfort zones, which is often where God is beckoning us to go with Him. We need to let God change our POV to His. We need to learn to love what He loves and hate what He hates. We need to see through the eyes of grace, mercy and peace. (Maybe this is why Paul starts his letters with these words.) So often, I also hold in contempt those who seem to continually struggle and who don't grow and progress in life, thinking they are just less spiritual than me. I am learning to see that weaknesses really all have the same source and are all a flesh/spirit battle. The more we walk in the Spirit, the less hold they have over us. That's really the only difference. God's Word gives us our focus and shapes our POV into His. That is truly where we learn what to value and what measure we should use. It's all about a focus away from self and toward God. Your turn!

          • Well said Kari,
            Everyone's point of view is different as well as what we are biased towards. I do think the struggle is to make sure we are consistently trying to mold our point of view into God's. I think to be enlightened is to see things as God see's them.

          • I agree Mark. Unfortunately, that's not the world's view of being enlightened. We need to focus on what we know is true and to live in that.

  5. My body is still recovering from a short-term mission trip to Alaska. Extended hours of sunshine (as in it never got dark for the two weeks we were there) plus a big work project meant shorter nights of rest. Cranky and lethargic are two signs that show I'm tired. And Ellen will tell you I'm a much better person when I'm fully rested.

    Hope you're on the mend today.

    • Those are two very important signs to heed. Strangely, so many people ignore the basic physical signs telling them to slow down. We need spouses & friends to encourage us to listen to those signs. I'm glad I have one that does! Thanks. I'm getting there but still not there. Trying to listen to the signs my body is giving me though.

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