For the past week, I’ve enjoyed getting into the trendy craze that is Pokemon Go. Initially, I signed on as “research”–we who write and speak about tech need to understand all of the latest trends, right? But I have to admit that in my dogged pursuit to “level up” and evolve my catches, I’ve become a fan of the game. Pokemon Go has me texting with my pre-teen nephew for tips and strolling my neighborhood in search of tools for the games. I find myself more anxious to take a stroll a few times per day.
And playing has caused me to actually discover some new things in my neighborhood too… Two important nearby street signs have significance in the game. It wasn’t until I saw those signs on my little phone screen that I actually realized I’d been walking past them for weeks. Now that they have become places I seek out regularly, I wonder how I could have ever NOT seen those signs.
My non-vision immediately came to mind when reading the gospel for Monday from Matthew 12:38-42. The scribes and Pharisees challenge Jesus, asking him for a sign. “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you,” they challenge. Jesus responds not with a laundry list of “signs” he has already performed, but with a challenge of his own. No additional “sign” will be given… there is something even greater at work than the scribes and Pharisees have ever known.
In too many ways, I find myself testing God like those scribes and Pharisees, asking for “signs” to help me in these uncertain times:
- Lord, amidst such violence in our world, send me a “sign” to know that lasting peace is possible.
- God, with the political season gearing up around me, offer me a “sign” to help me understand how faithful citizenship should influence my vote.
- Father, send a “sign” that my job is truly your will, that I’m on the right path…
I want to acknowledge that I am not one of those who regularly receives “signs”. I have never audibly heard God’s voice, seen an apparition, or even had some tiny noticeable miracle that I would call a “sign”. Yet all around me, day after day, are “signs” of God’s love.
- A family that supports me despite the times I am selfish or wrong in my service to them
- A lifestyle that brings me into continual connection with people of faith to feed my spirit and people with no faith who give me the chance to feed others
- A community that reminds me to look outside my material needs to be Christlike to those most in need.
Too many days, it’s easy to walk right past “signs” that should be obvious.
As parents, one of the ways we can best pass our faith along to our children is to help them learn to “see the signs” around themselves and to prayerfully respond. This doesn’t mean teaching our kids to “test” God as the scribes and Pharisees did. But it does mean modeling for them an active prayer life. It means helping them to see trials that come up not as moments for despair but as opportunities to lean in to God’s love. And it especially means helping them to interpret disappointments not as defeats but perhaps as signs that God’s will for them lies elsewhere, in as yet undiscovered pastures.
To see the “signs”, we must put down our devices and look around us, in the corners we haven’t yet explored.
To hear the “signs”, we must cultivate silence and turn our ears toward tiny whisperings.
To taste the “signs”, we must embrace a Eucharistic God who comes to us, ready to permeate our beings and be one with us.
God’s signs are all around us, just waiting to be noticed and cherished.
Let’s work on “catching them all”.
Copyright 2016 Lisa M. Hendey