Don’t drive past the signs!

Mark 8:11-21

“Having eyes do you not see….?” v. 18.

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I think I have a gift for missing signs. A few years ago I was driving along the interstate with my beautiful wife. As is typical, we were in deep conversation, about what, I can’t recall. At one point it seemed the interstate was becoming longer and the signs unfamiliar. You guessed it. We had been so into our conversation that we passed the exit leading home and were headed to parts unknown. The sign was there, we just didn’t see it. This makes me think of the Pharisees, who came to Jesus, after he had healed a deaf man, cast a demon out of a child, without even being in the same place, walked on water, and miraculously feed four thousand people. They came to him demanding a sign from heaven. I can hear it now, “okay Jesus, that whole bread and fish thing was cool, but come on, show us a sign from heaven!” No doubt they had at least heard of the things he was doing, and likely had seen a miracle or two. But they were so wrapped up in their pride and fear that they drove right past what he was doing. It’s funny, today I hear so many people say things like, “I wish God would do some miracles today, like the Bible talks about. I would believe then.” But whenever I tell the same people about the day my mother was healed of Multiple Sclerosis, or one of my deacons was healed of a brain tumor on the way to the hospital, they react the way…well, the way you are possibly reacting right now. They say, “yeah right! probably some coincidence, or blah blah blah.” Let me be blunt. The reason you don’t get the sign you think you want is the same reason Jesus told the Pharisees, “No sign will be given…” to them.  He knows you wouldn’t believe it anyway. You would rationalize that it was some unexplainable psychological phenomena, or that the person wasn’t really sick, or that it was some random evolutionary accident that just happened to occur at the time of prayer. Seriously? Why is it that people who demand signs are usually the last to believe them? Make sure that in your commitment to unbelief you don’t drive right past the signs.

On another occasion I was driving a group of Boy Scouts to a ski resort. We arrived late at night, and the fog was so thick, I literally could not see past the bumper of my car. This is no exaggeration. As I crept along I was looking for a sign for the resort, but I couldn’t see it in the darkness and the fog. At one point I knew, according to my directions, I had to be near the entrance. I spent about half an hour going back and forth, in great frustration, trying to find the place. I kept passing this really big sign, but thought it was for something else. I didn’t really pay attention to it because I kept assuming it was not our place. My youngest son kept telling me, “Dad I think that’s the place.” But I kept saying, “No it can’t be.” Guess what. After repeated passes in the late night fog, I finally slowed down and looked a little closer. I apologized to my son and kicked myself down the road. I had spent half an hour angry and frustrated while passing the sign over and over. If I had just slowed down, listened, and paid attention I would have seen the sign much earlier. The disciples must have felt the same way. When Jesus warned them, “watch out, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees…” They thought he was asking for bread. Jesus reminded them of the last two miraculous bread giveaways. “Guys, don’t you get it?” He said. They had been in the midst of great miracles, even holding the evidence in their hands, as they passed the food to the people. But so much like me, they weren’t paying attention enough to see who Jesus was. They loved him and served him, but still didn’t get him. They needed to slow down, listen and look a little more closely to see the signs. Like a weary man driving in the late night fog of West Virginia, they were missing his voice and driving past the signs of his glory. Are you looking for a sign from heaven? Are you still waiting for God to float down and tap dance on your kitchen table before you believe? Or are you just waiting for a feeling before you step out in faith? Perhaps it would be more productive if you opened up to God and said, “Lord, I want to see you on your terms, not mine. Open my blind eyes to see what you’ve already done in my life and my world. Help me open up, slow down, listen carefully, and pay attention to you. Most of all, help me believe.”

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