My husband and I spend a weekend at the beach 3 or 4 times a year. We relax in our hotel room, eat great seafood, read, shop, explore, and take walks along the shoreline. I love walking on the beach—sometimes with my husband—and sometimes by myself.
On one of our most recent beach trips, my husband was reading, and I decided to take a walk by myself. I like to look for fun shells while I’m walking, so I glanced down frequently to see if I saw any shells worth collecting. As was often the case, I saw an abundance of cockle shells, which are quite common at the beaches we visit. I picked up a few for closer inspection but didn’t find many that I wanted to keep.
While I was walking, I was also talking to God. Watching the waves roll in and hearing them crash into the shore, observing the birds as they searched for food at the water’s edge, feeling the ocean breeze, and looking at the multitude of shells spread across the sand, all made me feel more connected to our Creator. And so, I started to pray.
I frequently find myself second guessing my calling as a writer and podcaster. I do believe God has called me to do both, but my confidence in that calling is easily shaken. During my walk that day, I was talking with God about my doubts and weaknesses, my lack of discipline, and my struggle with inspiration. Was I still being called to write? And what about my podcast? Should I focus on just one or should I continue to do both?
I continued to glance at the shells while I walked and prayed, and suddenly I noticed a different kind of shell nestled in with all the cockle shells. I picked it up, studied it, and added it to my collection. I wondered if I might find more like it. An idea began to form in my mind. I could ask God for a sign that would let me know If writing and podcasting were still what He wanted me to do. And I could ask Him to use the seashells as that sign.
In the book of Judges, Gideon asked God for signs that he was really being called to rescue Israel and God gave him two.
Then Gideon said to God, “If you are truly going to use me to rescue Israel as you promised, prove it to me in this way. I will put a wool fleece on the threshing floor tonight. If the fleece is wet with dew in the morning but the ground is dry, then I will know that you are going to help me rescue Israel as you promised.” And that is just what happened. When Gideon got up early the next morning, he squeezed the fleece and wrung out a whole bowlful of water.
Then Gideon said to God, “Please don’t be angry with me, but let me make one more request. Let me use the fleece for one more test. This time let the fleece remain dry while the ground around it is wet with dew.” So that night God did as Gideon asked. The fleece was dry in the morning, but the ground was covered with dew. ~Judges 6:36-40
Even though Scripture talks about God giving signs, and even though I know people who have asked for and received signs from God, I have never been comfortable with the idea. However, I couldn’t help thinking that, if I was on the right path and should continue to write and podcast, maybe God would let me find another shell like the one I had just found.
I walked a few feet and looked down. Right there in front of me was another one of those shells. I picked it up and walked only a few more feet before I spotted another one. I was stunned. Did God just use two shells to tell me to keep doing both things? Was I reading too much into the situation? I wasn’t sure what to think, so I prayed more. I told God that I wasn’t sure I was supposed to ask for signs, but it sure seemed like He had given me two. I asked for clarification and walked back toward my hotel. On the way, I found 4 or 5 more of those shells. Why hadn’t I seen them before?
I believe God had, indeed, used those shells to give me answers to my questions and assurance in my calling. I don’t think God reached down and placed those shells in my path, but I do believe He focused my attention on the areas where I would find them. It was an amazing experience.
Have you ever received a sign from God or heard him speak to you? If so, please tell me about it.