"Sign, Sign, Everywhere a sign, blocking out the scenery breaking my mind, do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign?" This is the chorus from the 1971 hit single Signs, by Five Man Electrical Band.
As a Christian, I tend to look for signs (from God) every where. Having a real and relevant heavenly Father means that I believe nothing happens by coincidence. Yet do I sometimes put too much credence into "signs?" For instance, I have lost the bible study book I was thinking of doing for my Fall study group. Is this a sign from God to select another book? Or simply a sign of my lack of organization?
In the book of Judges, there is a man named Gideon. The Lord sent Gideon out to save Israel. When the Lord begins talking to Gideon, Gideon says "If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me." (Judges 6:17) Not only does he ask for this sign, but he then asks for confirmation that he will indeed save Israel. He asks that he place a wool fleece on the floor and if there is dew only on the fleece but the ground is dry, then he will know that God will save Israel through his hand.
There was indeed only dew on the fleece. But Gideon said to God (v39) "Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece. This time make the fleece dry and the ground covered with dew." And God did so. He provided Gideon will all the signs he needed.
However, in the New Testament Jesus says ""A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign!" when the Pharisees were trying to test in Matthew 12. Is it wrong to look for a sign?
I believe the difference is Gideon looked for a sign in faith. He wanted to make sure his step in faith was the correct step in following God. (And yes, I think he was a bit scared too). The Pharisees on the other hand, we not asking for signs because of their faith, but their lack of faith. The were hoping to prove that Jesus was not the Son of God.
We also have to be careful to test our signs. Jesus goes on in Matthew 24 saying, "For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible." After all, the devil is the father of lies and comes to deceive and devour.
There are signs, signs, every where signs. We just need to make sure we're reading them the right way.
"And the sign said, 'Everybody welcome. Come in, kneel down and pray' But when they passed around the plate at the end of it all, I didn't have a penny to pay. So I got me a pen and a paper and I made up my own little sign. I said, 'Thank you, Lord, for thinkin' 'bout me. I'm alive and doin' fine.'" (Final verse, Signs song).