I confess to allowing myself to feel envious of other Christians when they receive obvious miracles in their lives. Don’t get me wrong; God has blessed me in uncountable ways, but many of those blessings are very subtle and easily missed. Other believers get the spectacular signs, while I just … live.
I asked God about that, and while He didn’t answer me audibly, even in a “still, small voice,” He guided me to some words that Jesus spoke to the nit-picky religious experts of His time: “Then the Pharisees came out and began to dispute with Him, seeking from Him a sign from heaven, testing Him. But He sighed deeply in His spirit, and said, ‘Why does this generation seek a sign? Assuredly, I say to you, no sign shall be given to this generation.’” (Mark 8:11-12) And again: “’A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.’ And He left them and departed.” (Matthew 16:4)
Have you ever been to Charismatic meetings where the evangelist coaches seekers to ask God for the Baptism in the Holy Spirit? If so, you know how he tells them to babble, and believe it is the gift of tongues. Years ago I fell under that sort of evangelist’s spell and walked away convinced that I had spoken in tongues, assuring me that I had been filled with the Spirit. Shortly afterward I discovered several Bible passages in 1 Corinthians 12-14, and you know what? None of them instructed me to actively seek the gift of tongues. Between those passages and what I’ve quoted above, I walked away from tongues feeling I had been deceived. After all, “A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign.”
A number of times I’ve tried to share my testimony with skeptics. In response, they often demand proof, like miracles or other signs. How different is that from demanding a particular spiritual gift before we believe we have the gift of the Holy Spirit? Perhaps it’s just my lack of faith, but I typically just back down from such confrontations with some lame excuse like, “God doesn’t jump through hoops like a trained monkey.”
God Is Faithful, Always!
A trained monkey He isn’t, but faithful He is. Many years of fighting with God about the weak state of my faith has led me to a firm conviction; He loves me enough to withhold things I’ve wanted, that He knew would become barriers between Himself and me.
It’s sort of like Apostle Paul’s “thorn in the flesh.” While God hasn’t exactly given me an abundance of revelations, He knows that miraculous sign gifts would work against His greater purpose for me. And my demanding a sign would place me firmly in the same league as the Pharisees and lawyers of Jesus’ time.
Truthfully, He’s given me one of the greatest signs of all: I have peace with performing no miracles, speaking in no unlearned tongues, and receiving no prophetic utterances. Instead, He has given me a longing to love others as He loves me, and I think that is quite enough.