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Asking for a Sign

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“Lord, send me a sign!”

I can not begin to tell you how many times this phrase has left my mouth.  It usually occurs when I need to truly understand what God wants of me or for me during a moment of fervent and passionate prayer. It usually has a special ending of my own, “Lord, send me a sign—and make it really clear!” An example was when I was deciding what course to take with my career, namely my shift from classroom teacher to principal. The opportunity to do so at the school where I was employed didn’t exist so I needed to pursue the opportunity elsewhere. I applied and interviewed at a few places, but ignored the position of principal that was open at St. Dominic, even though I was asking for signs throughout the whole time. I received a “poke” from a respected friend to apply. Ignored it. I received a second “poke” from a trusted confidant to apply. Ignored it. A third “poke” occurred from someone with tremendous authority. I did not ignore it. The power of three was too much to ignore. I applied. I interviewed. I accepted. The signs became unmistakable. The  signs continued to inform me that I was doing what the Lord intended. There was no denying it. God certainly made it really clear.

In John 1:6-8, 19-28, John is reacting to this basic need for a sign to know and be assured of God’s presence. He is sharing what he has experienced as the sign from God that itwas now time to shift focus from himself to Jesus. John tells his disciples about the dove, and the light, and the words of God – all magnificent signs, bright neon arrows pointing at Jesus, the long awaited Messiah. It couldn’t be more clear. Yet, it is remarkable how slow people are to shift focus away from John to Jesus, if they ever do. The entirety of Jesus’s ministry is all about signs and wonders to move the hearts of those who seek. Those who saw the signs were open to seeing them. Those who didn’t see the signs, simply didn’t want to. They didn’t see it right up to the very end.

Do you find yourself asking God for a sign? Do you also ask him to make it really clear like I do? Do you see the signs even if the signs aren’t exactly what you thought they would be? People didn’t think the sign about the Messiah would be coming from a crazy desert dweller dressed in camel’s fur that ate locusts and honey. Those who do see the signs are open to seeing them. They understand that God works in amazing ways. He gives signs all the time. So the next time you find yourself asking for a sign from God, make sure you are open to the message He is sending or you just might miss it.

Posted by Jill Fischer
Tags: signs

Greener Grass

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One of the greatest and unexpected reasons I am a priest today came about when I was sitting in my formator’s office telling him I was thinking of leaving the seminary. My first year of college seminary was not as easy as I had hoped and I found myself struggling quite early on in my discernment. By the time the semester was well under way, I already was considering leaving the seminary. I felt spiritually dry. I remember telling the priest all of the things I had left behind for seminary and my desire to go back to them.

The priest listened intently and patiently as I went down the list of reasons why I should leave. When I finished he leaned forward in his chair and said, “You know Tim, the grass is always greener on the other side, and at times we want to leave our ugly looking grass and move. But sometimes, we just need to water our own grass.”

Sometimes we just need to water our own grass. It’s a simple lesson, yet it was a lesson that kept me in seminary and eventually a priest. I began to focus on what was causing my spiritual grass to die and what care it needed. It took some time, but eventually, I became quite happy and content with how green my own grass had become. 

Sometimes we get so caught up in looking around us that we neglect to water and care for ourselves. As we become focused on what we do not have, what we actually have begins to suffer. We then want to give up and move on to newer and better things. It becomes a vicious cycle. The more we look outward the more our grass dies until we eventually move on to greener grass. 

We all have times when we wish we could be elsewhere or further along than we are, especially in our faith. The temptation can be to move on to others things and give up. Let’s try a different approach. For as much as the grass looks greener on the other side, sometimes we just need to water our own grass.

Tags: faith

A Face Full of Mud

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Sometimes, we ask God for a miracle, and we end up with a face full of mud.

Many of us suffer greatly in this life. And in the midst of this suffering, we pray for assistance, for Divine intervention. We pray to Jesus our Healer to work a miracle of healing for us or for another.

Why not me? Why not this? Why not now?

Often, so often, our prayers are met with a no. Or worse, silence. When we are suffering deeply, knowing Jesus is indeed the One who Heals, yet remaining unhealed ourselves can be immensely painful. It can feel like rejection, like forsakenness. It can lead us to that feeling of abandonment that Christ experienced on the cross: “My God, why have you forsaken me?!” I know the pain of that cry.

Today’s Gospel passage has taught me a lot about that cry. Because sometimes, as we see in the Gospel, sometimes the way God works His miracles looks a whole lot like a face full of mud.

Unlike most of Jesus’ other miracles of healing, this miracle is not neat and tidy, it is dirty…literally. Jesus spits on the ground to create mud and rubs it all over the blind man’s eyes.

Additionally, this miracle does not take place immediately at Christ’s touch or word—it is delayed. Only after the man leaves Jesus and follows His instructions to wash the mud off does the miracle occur. There is a time of waiting. There is a time of uncertainty.

This is my word of encouragement for those of us who cry out for healing and are left without it: Maybe the answer isn’t a “no,” but a “not yet.” Maybe it isn’t the neat, tidy, miracle that allows us to “drop our crutches” at the door, which in truth is what most of us desire. Maybe it is a slow unfolding that we barely see or a set of circumstances that just don’t seem like they’ll lead to our healing—such as a face full of mud. Maybe Christ isn’t even focused on our physical, practical healing, because what He desires more is our spiritual healing and He’s going after that first. As a result, maybe we won’t get the healing we desire until we reach eternity. And that is hard to understand when met by the God-Who-Heals-and-yet-Won’t.

Our path is still the path of the blind man. Choosing to trust Jesus, even with a face full of mud. Following His lead, even when that means walking away without our miracle. And being ready to see His healing work unfold in our lives. We never really know how the Lord is working to answer our cries. But we do know He is. Maybe He just needs time to gather more spit.

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