On a recent Monday morning, one of Donna’s friends stopped by the house to pick her up. They were headed to Paducah for the annual quilt show that is held in that city. I helped Donna load her luggage into her friend’s car and waved them off. After they had pulled onto highway, I walked to our garage to retrieve an item from my car. Walking back to the house, I saw a dark colored Buick Lucerne pass the house traveling north toward downtown Eminence. My plan for the day began with a trip to Louisville to see a church member who was in a rehabilitation center.
A siren sounded in the distance. Glancing out the window, I saw the Eminence Fire Chief pass our house headed toward town.
Five minutes later, my phone rang. The caller advised me that I needed to come to church and shut off the power to our new digital church sign. An auto had hit it. When I arrived, I saw the dark colored Buick Lucerne that had passed our home just minutes before. The sign lay at a 45-degree angle. The car’s front end was crumpled.
When we started shopping for a new church sign, several companies assured us that an attractive, digital sign would bring more people to our church. We never expected it to bring an automobile, as well. Before the car struck our sign, it passed between our sanctuary and a utility pole—a narrow squeeze. Neither the auto nor the sign fared well. Thankfully, the driver and her grandchild were not injured.
The sign probably kept the occupants and others from injury. Had the sign not been there, the auto would have gone into the front of the Post Office. Had this happened, the car’s occupants and patrons in the Post Office would have been at greater risk of injury.
All of this got me to thinking about plans and signs. We all have plans—things we intend to do and may set out to do. All those plans are subject to change, sometimes by accidents and sometimes because of the signs we see and heed or not heed.
The book of Daniel includes several stories about King Nebuchadnezzar in which he receives signs through either dreams or visions. Had he taken the full measure of the earlier signs, the last one—handwriting on the wall (Dan. 5)—might not have occurred. Through Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar benefitted from his earlier dreams. He benefitted but he didn’t draw closer to God who had provided the dreams. He remained a man committed to his own way. It cost him his life.
Church signs, like ours, provide information but they do more. They invite people to a new life experience, to new life in Christ. Our sign also provides those passing by with the time and temperature. Too many people “benefit” from the minor message but ignore the more important one. Doing so will prove costly.
The sign is a tool. The message is “Come unto me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28 NRSV).
Photo taken by Michael Duncan