UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds

A sign from above

God tends not to communicate with me in direct ways

By Karen Stiller

In a fit of existential angst earlier this year, I woke up and decided to ask God for a sign of what’s next and what’s up with God and me anyway. It happened to be the morning of April Fool’s Day.

I dragged my husband, Brent, into the scheme, and suggested we pray together, thinking that would make my plan more powerful. After all, aren’t Christian couples supposed to pray together? We’ve been married for 19 years, and I can count on one hand the times we’ve actually prayed together out loud.

I could list a bunch of reasons why we don’t. For example, we have such powerful personal prayer lives that praying together just seems redundant. But mostly I think it’s because praying out loud in front of my husband makes me so self-conscious I’d almost rather he hear me yodel.

But that morning, we prayed together. And I boldly asked God for a sign.

Then I got up, went downstairs and discovered that our new puppy, Dewey the Doodle, had busted out of his crate and been up to all sorts of scatological mischief in our kitchen.

Our three children, Erik, 13, Holly, 10, and Thomas, 8, bolted out of bed and launched into April Fool’s Day madness.

Our bed, which I had just made, was stripped bare of all linens, which were then heaped into a corner of our bedroom; a trunk where I store extra linens was dumped out all over the landing. Brent’s underwear was secured into a Rubbermaid container filled with water, and the toothbrushes were buried in a mountain of shaving cream. I found my bra in the freezer.

In revenge, I packed rubber snakes into the kids’ lunchboxes. Reportedly they were met by a stifled yawn at lunch (and a loud yelp by me when I went to unpack the boxes that night).

Later that day, I shared all this stuff (and I’m not even sure I’m remembering all of it) with a friend who said, “Wow. Your kids must feel really safe to do things like that.”

Although it felt like a stretch, I took it as a compliment.

As for a sign from God, nothing really obvious came along that day except for my friend’s comment that my kids must feel very good to be so very bad. Was God trying to tell me something? I’m really not sure because although I would appreciate an e-mail or a text message, God tends not to communicate with me in such direct ways. I almost always hear God’s voice through what someone else says to me, and I feel most confident of God’s presence in hindsight. I can see God in my rearview mirror more clearly than I can all around me.

What did happen was that my head was yanked out of my bellybutton. I thought, as my bra was thawing, that although it’s crucial for parents to take the time to reflect and seek God’s direction on the big questions, life’s big moments are still happening right in front of us. I think that God’s answer to me on that particular day may have been something like “Look at what I have given you. Taste the joy that is in front of you. Laugh with me.”

And maybe find somewhere else to store the sheets.

Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!


The author is baptized at Central United in Calgary. (Photo courtesy of Al Coe)

Why I got baptized in a United Church at the age of 42

by Jacqueline Mercer-Livesey

"I told myself that I didn’t need to go to church to believe in God. I found peace and the Holy Spirit in the things that surrounded me. But still, there was a nagging sense of something missing."

Promotional Image


Editor/Publisher of The Observer, Jocelyn Bell.

Observations: The rewards of letting go

by Jocelyn Bell

Editor Jocelyn Bell reflects on the upcoming changes for The United Church of Canada, the magazine and in her own life.

Promotional Image


ObserverDocs: Two nurses tackle Vancouver's opioid crisis

Richard Moore is a resident of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. In this poignant interview, he explains the important work of nurses Evanna Brennan and Susan Giles.

Promotional Image


July 2018

250 United Church leaders have a message for Doug Ford

by Emma Prestwich

They're urging the new Ontario premier to remember those in need as he carries out promised economic reform.


July 2018

Tracing Nelson Mandela’s path a century after his birth

by Tim Johnson

A travel writer visits some of the places that shaped the anti-apartheid icon’s life.


July 2018

Jamil Jivani sheds light on why young men radicalize

by Suzanne Bowness

In his book 'Why Young Men,' Jamil Jivani talks about his own experience as a troubled youth.

Promotional Image