Friday, September 07, 2007

A Sign from God

“Let's Meet At My House Sunday Before The Game.” – God. So said the white letters on a black background on a billboard. Some co-workers and I noticed it on a recent road trip to Evansville via a route not exactly known for it’s scenic opportunities. US 41 is long stretches of boring four-lane with only billboards and a few small towns to look at for any kind of conversational stimulation.

So the billboard got conversation going. “Like God would really speak in billboards,” scoffed Nancy A (so called to distinguish her from my wife Nancy B(ill)). At least, I pointed out, this message was fairly benign. Welcoming even. Unlike others we began to spot – the ten commandments painted in stark black on the side of a building, a sign warning “Turn or Burn” with burning red letters, and worse.

It turns out that the “God Speaks” ads were created by the Smith Agency in Florida which won awards for their campaign. Targeted at people who no longer attend church on a regular basis, there were eventually the campaign went nationwide and developed seventeen messages including, “C'mon Over And Bring The Kids,” “What Part of "Thou Shalt Not..." Didn't You Understand,” and “Loved The Wedding, Invite Me To The Marriage.”

For all our poking fun at these and other signs, a thought came to me – there are many times I wish God would speak to me as clearly and as obviously as on the billboards. But the life of faith is not that way. God, in my experience, is much more subtle. To discern God's direction, I have to pay quiet, close, loving, attention to the people, places, and things around me.

That’s what Elijah discovered. Here’s a fellow you would think would have pretty good spiritual ears. After all, he had a big showdown with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. Elijah triumphed, and the idolaters lost -- their lives. Then Queen Jezebel sent an un-thank you note to Elijah saying, “You killed my prophets. I’ll kill you.” Elijah’s spiritual zeal evaporated and he got out of town, praying as he went, “God, I’ve had enough. Take my life.” God does not oblige.

Instead God tells him: “Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. (see 1 Kings 19)

God’s whisper is so deep and so holy that it may appear to be sheer silence – unless we pay heartfelt attention.

PS The above church sign is not real -- I computer generated myself. Still... I wouldn't mind seeing a sign or two like that!

1 comment:

Chris M. said...

One banner I seen a few years ago displayed in from of a church played off of the "Got Milk?" advertising campaign and was displayed as- "Got God?"

The "Got Milk?" campaign is defined as- "To educate consumers on the benefits of milk, to raise milk consumption, and to correct misconceptions about the beverage."

Not sure how effective it was for the church but a great play on the