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September 1, 2009

Cryptic Signs

by Sharon Swing, Co-Author of Listen to My Life: Maps for Recognizing and Responding to God in My Story

Often, I pass the hours of car trips by sleeping while Tom drives. But things were very different while my family vacationed in the red rock country of Sedona, Arizona. The sights were beautiful and fresh at every turn. While traveling on dirt roads in a rented sedan, we were always interested in what was down the road, not wanting to get ourselves into a bad situation on a trek that may provide more rocks, inclines or potholes than we could safely navigate.

At one point, we came upon this sign, ‘Next 2 Miles’ on a signpost, all alone. The post protruding above the small yellow rectangle baring these words indicated that there was important information posted above it at one time, now missing. We stopped to take a picture with Matthew posing in confusion. We all thought the sign was humorous. But, right under the surface of my smirk I thought, ‘That’s what life feels like right now. I can see signs alerting me of something ahead, but I’m not sure all of what it might entail. My soul senses changing winds. Uncertainty lies ahead.’

I’m noticing God whispering ‘heads up!’ That’s my cue to pay attention, to be aware. I don’t take it as an ominous ‘BEWARE’ sign, but a gentle nudge awakening my soul to pay attention to what’s ahead. God doesn’t want me to miss it, and if he’s doing the nudging, I sure don’t want to miss out on whatever he has for me.

The uncertainty provides a choice. I can worry, or trust Him and pray.

Over the last 8 years, I’ve been paying special attention to reviewing my past so I can notice how God has been intertwined in my story. More importantly, I’m uncovering the ways in which I belong to His story. That’s been a faith building experience for me. So, I’m learning to recognize his work in my life with greater clarity in the present, so I can respond to him with trust in the moment.

Over time, I’m learning I don’t need to worry about what’s down the road the next 2 miles, as I choose to trust the One who knows what’s ahead. I’ll travel with Him as my guide. It may be a treacherous road, or it may provide stunningly beautiful vistas, (or both) but I want to be fully awake to what God is up to in me, around me, and through me as it happens. I’ll make the choice to travel with anticipation of adventure ahead. No sleeping through this trip!

I love this scripture from the Message paraphrase, and you might, too. If you’re interested in having an experience with this passage, take a look at the suggestions at the bottom of the page…

Psalm 119: 29-34 MSG
Barricade the road that goes Nowhere; grace me with your clear revelation.
I choose the true road to Somewhere, I post your road signs at every curve and corner.
I grasp and cling to whatever you tell me; GOD, don't let me down!
I'll run the course you lay out for me if you'll just show me how.
GOD, teach me lessons for living so I can stay the course.
Give me insight so I can do what you tell me— my whole life one long, obedient response.
Guide me down the road of your commandments; I love traveling this freeway!
Give me a bent for your words of wisdom, and not for piling up loot.
Divert my eyes from toys and trinkets, invigorate me on the pilgrim way.
Affirm your promises to me— promises made to all who fear you.
Deflect the harsh words of my critics— but what you say is always so good.
See how hungry I am for your counsel; preserve my life through your righteous ways!

As you read this scripture, you may want to try this process, called Divine Reading, or Lectio Divina to allow the scripture to ‘read you’ as you read it. It will be helpful to print this page to do this exercise.

1. Sit silently for a minute.
2. Read the passage slowly, underlining words and phrases that stir you in some way
3. Re-read the passage aloud. How do the words you underlined relate to your life right now? You might choose to make a few notes in the margin of the page.
4. As you read the scripture for the third time ask, “What might God be asking me to be or do? Write or draw what comes to mind.

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