Saturday, November 9, 2013

Sign Language

(Photo courtesy of Kevin Bridge)
I doubt if I would have noticed it if he hadn't pointed it out. But there it was, an orange sign mounted on one of the highway exit sign poles, with the words “22 Jump” in black print above an arrow pointing to the right. Indeed, I had been on that road and passed that very sign multiple times already in our initial wanderings through the city, but since the words didn't mean anything to me, my eyes had skipped over it like just so much passing scenery. What made it different this time was that my son was driving the car, and he deliberately pointed it out to my husband and me. Working in the film industry as he does, he knew it to be a directional posting for the film crew working on the upcoming movie “22 Jump Street”, to get them where they needed to be.

As if a visit to New Orleans wasn't exciting enough with all the dining, shopping, and sightseeing opportunities available, the city is a hub of the motion picture industry, and at any time all manner of movies, commercials and music videos are in the process of being filmed. Traffic already congested by the crowds of tourists as well as just the city dwellers who are trying to get to home, work, or social activities, driving is made more difficult by roads blocked off temporarily to accommodate movie sets in the making and multiple trucks carrying all the necessary gear and supplies. Highly prized parking spots in front of local eateries are sometimes lost as a result, but the necessary hike to these culinary destinations from more distant sites affords the tourist time to gawk at the lights, cameras, and action going on behind the yellow taped areas, hoping for a glimpse of somebody famous as they briefly pass by.

What a difference it made to be alongside somebody who knew what was going on and could tell a “grip” or a “gaffer” by the tools clipped to his belt from a mere production assistant picking up coffee for the who could detail the function of the various trucks parked on the street by a passing glance inside their open rear doors... a guide who could identify where the shooting might move to next by spotting generators and other equipment delivered in advance and waiting on site to be put to work... an interpreter who translated the seemingly random jumble of letters on brightly colored placards plastered all over the city into names of films that were currently being shot in that locale. His practiced eye saw a whole other world at work and in motion, interacting with the one in which the majority of the people walked, oblivious to much of what was going on around them.

And so it was for us at one time, when as unbelievers we didn't understand the operations of the spiritual realm, had no knowledge of the forces invisibly at work around us, and didn't understand the many signs posted at the turning points in our lives to give us direction and assistance. How badly we needed somebody to come alongside as Phillip so long ago did with the Ethiopian eunuch, who when asked if he understood what he was reading in the Scriptures responded with, “How can I... unless somebody explains it to me?” (Acts 8:31 NIV)

Many of us can recall the day when we did the same, struggling to make sense of what we simply couldn't understand on our own. Thankfully God intervened, as He did initially by sending us Jesus, Who on His way to restoring our relationship with the Father spent countless hours teaching the disciples, explaining the Scriptures to disheartened believers, encouraging those struggling with fear and lack of faith, and helping all who came to Him seeking assistance. As He prepared His followers for His departure, He promised the disciples to send a Comforter, Teacher, Counselor, Helper... in the form of the Holy Spirit who would reside inside each of them. Repeatedly in the Bible pages that follow His coming we see the Spirit of Truth in action in bodily form, operating through Phillip with the Ethiopian, Ananias with Saul, and Peter with the Roman centurion, Cornelius. Likewise today when we reach the point spiritually that the eunuch did, asking for help and inviting God into our lives, suddenly what was invisible to us before we now clearly see, and we not only notice but understand the signs He leaves around us to direct and guide us as we accomplish that which we were sent here to do.

As if to bring the message a little closer to home, yesterday morning I got up and started in on my morning routine. Ready to start my devotional time, I suddenly realized I didn't have my glasses. Since I can't read a word without their assistance, I looked everywhere for them, on the windowsill where I often leave them, on the bathroom sink, the kitchen counter, the laundry room...I even tip-toed soundlessly through the bedroom where my husband still slept, searching everywhere for my specs by the light of my cell phone. Frustrated that I couldn't read my Bible without them but determined to meet with God anyway, I told myself that at least I didn't need the glasses to pray, and began to do so. And suddenly I spied my glasses on the table, not three feet away. Gratefully I put them on, opened my Bible, and instantly the words which were blurry before came into focus and became messages that I could apply to my life in the day ahead of me...a simple illustration of how God works when we turn our thoughts and attention towards Him. Having spoken a language that our hearts can understand, He now uses whatever tools He has at hand to bring our minds in line, as well,, whether they be a pair of lenses in plastic frames, a face behind a pulpit, or a friend who walks beside us along the way.

Our trip to New Orleans changed from memorable to mesmerizing when we asked my my son to take the wheel. All the more do our life experiences improve dramatically when we simply ask God's Son to do the same.

The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
(1 Corinthians 2:14 NIV)


  1. Wonderful analogy, Elaine. What a great reminder to always invite our "Interpreter" along when we study scripture. Thanks for the post.


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