God often speaks to us through ordinary circumstances and events that happen in our daily lives — if we are alert, pay attention, listen and reflect on what He is trying to teach us. Let me share an example.
The Lord’s Ranch sign
At the entrance to The Lord’s Ranch where I live, there has been a wooden sign hanging there for many, many years. The sign has a green background with white letters that say The Lord’s Ranch. The sign was in serious need of a new paint job, so I mentioned it to the group. Mary Ann volunteered to do the re-painting, and her husband Mike said he would take the sign down so she could work on it.
He used the tractor to lift the sign out, but when he examined the wood more closely, he saw that it was decayed and wearing out. (We don’t remember the exact year the sign was made, but it was close to 40 years old.) It was clear that we needed to replace the whole thing rather than just slap a coat of paint over the rotting wood.
Which is what we did. It took us a lot longer and required much more effort, but the new sign is bright and fresh and will last for many years, welcoming visitors to The Lord’s Ranch.
So what was the parable in all of this? I had brought up painting the sign because it needed it. But when Mike Halloran took the whole sign down, he realized what bad shape the wood was in and told us, “We can’t just paint over this; we need to get new wood to make a new sign.”
Reflecting on this, I thought of how we do that in our lives sometimes. We have an area of sin, or a bad habit, or a negative way of thinking. We think, “Oh, I can always go to confession later,” or “That’s not that bad,” or “Oops, I shouldn’t have said that unkind comment – I’ll just say I’m sorry.” Sometimes we try to slap a coat of paint over our faults and carry on as normal.
But God wants to renew us. “See, I make all things new.” (Revelation 21:5). If we let Him. If we take the time, put in the effort, allow Him to get to the root of things that need to be addressed within us, we will become a new creation.
One of the main gripes Jesus had with the Pharisees is that they opted for the “slap-on-some-fresh-paint” method so that they looked good and seemed holy. And we know what Jesus thought about that:
…you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. Matthew 23:27-28
The Lord’s message to us, through this parable of the sign, was to give Him permission to go deeper, to do a deeper work of healing in us, and uproot the things in our lives that need to go.
Now, every time we look at our beautiful new entrance sign, it can remind us to pray, “Lord, make me new, make our community new. Do whatever you need to do in us so that we can be a bright and solid sign to others of Your love and goodness. Amen!”
(Below are some photos of the renovation process.)