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 doing.
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.