Commentary: A sign for the times

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Don’t judge. I am well aware I have lived in Birmingham for nearly four years and numerous boxes in the barn are yet to be unpacked.

Several of my events were canceled this spring because of the COVID-19 global pandemic. I found myself with a free Saturday, and the guilt of an overwhelming task too long-delayed won out.

Most of the once-cherished treasures landed in the giveaway stack. When I saw the sensory box and the multiuse handheld sign, my eyes lit up.

My daughter is preparing to be an elementary school teacher. Both of these items will be of great value to her. Children love to explore with their senses.

The special box allows children to use their sense of touch to discover. It’s a guessing game. You put an item inside the box. There is a small hole they can put their hands through. They feel the item and try to guess what it is. The sensory box will be a perfect addition to the items we have stockpiled to teach preschoolers at our church.

The multiuse handheld sign can communicate four messages. Hold the sign one way, and the word “stop” sits in the middle of a red octagon. Fold the panels, and you see the words “go ahead” on a green background. Another turn of the panels, and the words “calm down” emerge on a yellow background. One last turn, and you find the word “quiet” on a blue field.

I handed the multiuse sign to my daughter to add to her growing educational resource stash. She gave it back and said, “Under the circumstances, this might be more helpful to you at work right now.”

Looking for a sign

We currently are caught in the wake of the COVID-19 tsunami with no assurance of when it will subside. I pray the crisis surge will end and lives will be spared. I am bombarded with demands for decisions I feel ill-equipped to make. At times, I just want to hold up the stop sign to everyone who barrages me with yet another question or scenario demanding my consideration.

Mostly, I point the signs at myself. The “calm down” sign reminds me of my responsibility to speak peace into the lives of those I guide. I cannot lead during a crisis with a posture of nervousness. The “quiet” sign reminds me of my deep need to still my heart before the Father and center on his will. The “go ahead” message has limited use in these days of uncertainty. When it is employed, it is done with less bravado and much more quiet confidence in God’s leading.

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Samuel is one of the most pivotal characters in our biblical narrative. It was his mother who displayed quiet confidence in God. Because of persistent prayers and wholehearted surrender to his will, God granted the desires of her heart. Her steadfast faithfulness changed the course of a nation.

In these days of uncertainty, if you need a sign from God, then open his word.

Sandy Wisdom-Martin is the executive director of national WMU and former executive director-treasurer of Woman’s Missionary Union of Texas.

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