Signs and Predictions

“. . . interpret the signs . . .”

“Some Pharisees and Sadducees who came to Jesus wanted to trap him, so they asked him to perform a miracle for them, to show that God approved of him.  But Jesus answered, ‘When the sun is setting, you say, ‘We are going to have fine weather, because the sky is red.’  And early in the morning you say, ‘It is going to rain, because the sky is red and dark.’ You can predict the weather by looking at the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs concerning these times!'” (Matthew 16:1-3)

Uh-oh!  I pulled into our driveway at home a few days ago and discovered this acorn on the concrete.  Last year was not a good acorn year at our house.  The few we saw were puny, underdeveloped little things.  Consequently, they were of little interest to the deer.  On the other hand, the year before, the first year we lived in our new parsonage, the acorns were plump and plentiful, and so were the deer.  As a matter of fact, the deer were so plentiful and present that on a few occasions we had to wait to pull into our driveway until the four or five deer enjoying the acorn buffet moved away. I’m taking this acorn and others that have followed as a sign that our driveway might be busy again this fall.

The acorn started me wondering about the signs we look for, the signs, we ignore, and the signs we try to deny.  We tend to look for signs that will help us predict and work toward a better future.  We look for economic signs to help us invest, we look for political signs to help us choose leaders, and we even look for personal signs to access approval or disapproval and predict relationships.  Yet signs are only helpful if we’re open so seeing all the signs and not just the ones we want to see.  What about the signs we ignore or try to deny because they don’t fit into our projected path?

I can recall many times listening when someone agonized over a relationship because in the course of their dating they were seeing signs that did not predict a bright future.  However, the other person had such a hold on them that it was difficult to heed the signs and end the unhealthy relationship.  In too many cases I found out later their inability to heed the signs had resulted in horrendous experiences and the eventual exploding of the relationships.  How many times have we heard in the face of a tragedy, “Well, the signs were there,” meaning the signs were right in front of us but we failed to heed the predictions because they didn’t fit with our wants, dreams, or plans.  

In the passage from Matthew we learn that Jesus is scolding his adversaries because they can correctly interpret the signs they want to see, but ignore the signs of God’s work in Jesus and future plans because the adversaries don’t want to see the future in the way the signs predict.  It seems to me that when we see and follow signs predicting a future holding anything other than God’s hope, mercy, justice, love, and peace for all, then we must be following the wrong signs and ignoring God’s signs.  Sometimes it’s difficult to follow God’s signs because it requires sacrifice and following more difficult paths.  Sometimes it’s difficult to follow God’s signs because it requires us to think and challenge more instead of agreeing with the easy “yes.”

I pray that God will help me see the right signs and follow into the future God’s grace in Christ would have for us all.  How about you?

Blessings and Peace,


Pastor, Cross Lanes United Methodist Church

Cross Lanes, West Virginia 

Help save lives! For more information on my book, “A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression,” visit

My new book, “Wednesday Wonderings: Spiritual Journaling Through a Lens” is available at and
Check out my video, “Teens Surviving the Storm”

~ by revgenelson on September 3, 2014.

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