In the center of the valley where I live is a midsize city –
Medford, Oregon. We have a large
shopping mall anchored by several national chain stores. Sprinkled across the valley are other malls
where you can get most anything you would desire. The Rogue Valley is a
wonderful place to live.
A few years ago a Facebook page was created asking Trader
Joe’s to come and establish a store in the Medford area. I was one of thousands who “liked” that
Facebook page. Trader Joe’s has filled
our pantry for many years with unusual and delicious foods. In the past we would have to go to Redding,
California or to Eugene, Oregon to make our Trader Joe’s purchases – both of
these cities are a long drive from Medford. About a year ago we began to hear early
rumors that our request for a Trader Joe’s would become a reality. Foodies all across Southern Oregon felt a
rush of culinary bliss.
A few months ago construction began on a new mall in the heart
of our city that would house the new Trader Joe’s. Along with the Trader Joes would be a Fives
Guys Burgers and an REI store. REI is an
upscale sporting and outdoor store that is known for quality goods.
For the last few months, I have passed the construction site
each morning on my way to our church.
This morning as I drove by the job site, I saw something interesting. A large flatbed truck was carrying a sign
with the words on it “REI.” The sign was
huge, maybe 10 feet by 10 feet. The sign
was being carried to the job site for installation announcing that REI was
present in Medford, Oregon. Behind the
truck carrying the sign was a procession of contractor vehicles that would
obviously be needed to help erect such a large sign.
As the truck carrying the sign crossed in front of me, I
heard the words of Mark 16:17, “These miraculous signs will accompany those who
believe.” All the trucks following the lead truck carrying the sign were
accompanying it to its new home.
This reminded me so much of Church history when God would send some
supernatural sign into a region to establish His presence and then a great move
of God would follow.
I grew up reading older translations of the Bible that used
the word “follow” instead of “accompany” to describe Mark 16:17. Today, I went
back to some of my language study aids and found that the word “follow” or
“accompany” both work linguistically, but there is a more distinct definition
for these words.
The miraculous signs that
“follow” or “accompany” those who believe actually means, “to always be
present, to attend one wherever he goes” (Thayer). In other words when God’s
Spirit begins to move our belief positions us to be present with whatever God
is doing in that particular location.
Our belief also puts us in a place to attend to the requests of the Lord
wherever He goes. Our belief makes a way for us to be part of what God is
There is a divine balance between belief and following. While we initiate acts of faith that can
release something supernatural into our world, these acts of faith are only in
response to something the Father is already doing. Jesus did what He saw the Father doing. He spoke the words that His Father spoke. Jesus walked out the revelation He received
from the Father, and as a result, supernatural events took place because heaven
became a reality on earth.
The life Jesus lived provides for us a model of how to live
our lives in response to God. Our ability to “see” what God is doing allows us
to capture those points of revelation and import them back into our lives and
communities. These responsive acts of faith, bringing heaven’s revelation to
earth, are where the miracles, signs and wonders happen.
This morning I had the urge to pull my car in behind the
procession of contractors who would be erecting the REI sign and then accompany
them to the job site. The urge I
experienced in the natural is what I want to take place in my spirit when I see
God moving into some new area of my life or community.
In the natural, I would have been late to work had I
followed the procession of trucks carrying the sign. Speaking in a spiritual sense, we will never
be late for anything eternally important if we choose to change our life-plans
and accompany the signs of the One Who makes them happen. The signs were, after all, what He did to get
the attention of His culture and He has plans to do the same in our world today.