There’s an old joke about a man during a flood. You may have heard it before, but it goes like this,
A man is sitting on his porch as flood waters rise. A woman floats by in a boat, asking if the man needs help. “No, thank you,” says the man, “I’m trusting in the Lord.” The waters rise higher, sending the man upstairs. A raft full of people floats by his second story window. “Get in,” they say, “there’s plenty of room.” “No thanks,” says the man, “I’m trusting in the Lord.” The flood waters keep rising, pushing the man up to the roof. A helicopter swoops in, lowering its ladder for the man. “Thanks anyway,” shouts the man, “I’m trusting in the Lord.” Finally, the man is swept away in the torrent and drowns. At the gates of Heaven, the man asks God, “Why didn’t you save me?” “What do you mean?” replies God, “I sent two boats and a helicopter.”
We are all looking for signs. It may be that you have a faith in God and the signs you are looking for are supernatural, like the man in the flood, when the solution is staring you right in the face.
It may be that you are an atheist or an agnostic. You don’t, or can’t believe, but if God were to show himself in some unmistakable way then you may rethink things.
You may want to believe, but can’t see past your own failings. You may think that you aren’t good enough, that if there was a God then he wouldn’t want a thing to do with you. You want something to show you that this isn’t true.
You may be the type of person who occasionally prays the, “if you let this happen/not happen then I’ll definitely go to Church every Sunday” prayer. Or the person who’ll visit church every Christmas and Easter, because it feels like the right thing to do, you just don’t know why.
We all want the big gesture. That large, unmissable “HERE I AM! I’M GOD!” Moment which will tell us all what to do.
We want a sign.
Thing is, we’ve had a sign. We’ve had loads of signs.
Jesus didn’t just work with the supernatural, healing by faith and making dinner for 5,000 out of a few fish and bits of bread. He also did the practical; feeding, teaching, comforting. Most of the time the answer to our prayers isn’t a bolt of lightning, but a person or an opportunity.
Jesus told us that nobody is too bad or wicked for God. Look at the Prodigal Son, working in the dirtiest, least sacred place a Jew could imagine after dishonouring his father and running off. Despite all of this, once he recognised where he’d gone wrong, the father welcomed him with a party. Our heavenly father will do the same for all of us.
We know that church is the place to be at Christmas and Easter because of why we celebrate them. The timings and some of the traditions may not come from Jesus, but the birth celebrations do. The celebration of the cross does. The celebration of new life does too. It’s all about Jesus and He is trying to tell us that.
As for needing God to actually come and show himself, otherwise there is no basis for belief in him, well,
“He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ” (Luke 16:27-31 NIV)
Someone has risen from the dead, and still people don’t believe.
God has actually come and shown himself, and still people don’t believe.
We don’t need a sign. We don’t need ghosts coming back to tell us it’s all real. We don’t need God to walk the Earth. We don’t need the dead to rise again. It’s all happened.
We’ve had all the signs we need. We just need to learn how to follow them.