My Sign or Yours? His Sign or Hers?

And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother,
“Behold, this child is destined
for the fall and rise of many in Israel,
and to be a sign that will be contradicted
—and you yourself a sword will pierce—
so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

Luke 2:34-35

Many years ago, I began to notice that the great movements within my life, the inflection points, were preceded by indicators hinting at the road ahead. I began to see a correlation between these “signs” and the flow of the decisions I made. I found that the more I followed the signs, the better things tended to work out. Often, the “working out” wasn’t how I expected, what I thought I wanted, or even “good” in traditional terms of success. It was more of a flow, a symmetry among movements, that often culminated in the new, the profound, and the unexpected.

If you’ve followed these posts for any period of time, you’ve likely caught many direct and indirect references to “following the signs.” The notion has become one of the four guiding principles of my life and of our company. Following the signs isn’t about looking for “omens,” reading tea leaves, or trying to manipulate events to a desired outcome. Nor is it about surrendering to a preset “destiny.” Ultimately, it is about obedience to who you are called to be and trust in something greater than yourself.

One might argue that things always “work out” to some end. However, there is a huge difference between letting the river take us where it will and choosing to put our paddle in and move with intention. Following the signs is moving intentionally with the flow rather than fighting to get upstream. Sometimes that choice will take us into the rapids. Sometime it will take us to shore. And sometimes, it will take us to that crystal clear lake we never expected. Rarely is it about comfort or success (at least how success might typically be defined), but it is always about growth and forward motion – our own becoming.

Recently, a series of signs led me to a decision that seemed pretty obvious. A process had dragged-on, there was ongoing resistance in a particular direction, and numerous indicators affirmed my sense that we needed to shift directions, or at least bring this particular line of thinking to a close. The decision made, we moved on. However, over the following weeks, a variety of dynamics kept reoccurring, causing me to re-evaluate my original decision. Did I miss something?

From my perspective, nothing had changed. The basis for the original decision was still valid and there was no compelling reason to revisit it. Yet, the signs were there. There was a whisper, a prod, a poke. In a moment of clarity one morning, I finally realized that those on the other side of my decision were following their own signs…a realization that cast my own signs into a completely new light.

The wild thing about the infinite game we’re all playing is that it isn’t our game. Sure, we want to put ourselves at the center of our own little universe and command like kings or queens, but life reminds us time and time again that it’s really not about us. We desperately want it to revolve around us, and even in our most magnanimous moments, we struggle to see ourselves as anything other than the hero of the story. Yes, we have purpose. Yes, we have value. Yes, we are called to greatness.

And so is everyone else around us.

Here we find a great mystery of life. A world in which our special purpose rides parallel, perpendicular, or opposite to the special purposes of those around us. We are all getting our signs, making our own decisions, and being pressed up against one another amid it all. Sometimes, our sign will be contradicted and we will have to navigate those ramifications. Sometimes, our call is the priority and we must push through against resistance. Sometimes it will be clear, and easy to be obedient. And sometimes, we are playing a part in someone else’s story.

We will never see the whole game board. At least not in this life. Our vision will continue to be restricted to momentary glimpses and the signs will come and go, hidden in the fog or highlighted in the sunshine. Our choices will be thrown into the tossed salad of everyone else’s, and life will roll on. Through it all, we will default to the necessities of our self-centric, and self-protective, world views. The signs will always filter first through that lens.

However, we are playing a part in a much greater drama than our individual story. When we pause for a moment, look and listen, we begin to see the signs, the indications that guide or call to our best direction. Beside it all, run the signs of those we encounter. Will we see our part in their story as well?

My sign or yours? His sign or hers? Look again and you just might see it.

  • Lindsay Koskie

    This is a great reminder to pray for discernment from God vs validation from other people. I appreciate your insights.

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