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This is the sign from the LORD to prove that he will do as he promised: I will cause the sun’s shadow to move ten steps backward on the sundial of Ahaz! ISAIAH 38:7-8

“Lord, if I’m believing in the wrong thing and heading in the wrong direction  —I’ll walk away. Just speak to me clearly. But if you want me to press ahead, show me the sign I’m looking for.” I prayed that prayer on a discouraging day when I was headed out the door for a walk. The sign I was looking for  —cardinals  —was a common symbol to me. God had spoken to me this way before, the cardinal representing hope and promise. The more I saw, the greater the affirmation. Where I live, seeing one cardinal isn’t unusual, but the timing in my conversations with God has been uncanny. In desperate times, they’ve flown over my head, landed in branches in front of me, and seemingly stared at me as if God were delivering a personal message. I believed He had spoken this way many times, and on this day I desperately needed another bit of confirmation.

By the end of my walk, I had seen nine cardinals (and nine happened to be a symbolic number in the situation I was praying about). The most I had ever seen on that route was four, and usually, it was one or two at the most. Very often I would see none. But on this day, right after I said, “Lord, I’ll take any cardinals as an affirmation to continue in the direction I’ve been going,” I saw them flying across my path, landing in the bushes next to the path, darting over my head, and perched on branches above, chirping emphatically. Just as Hezekiah asked for and received a sign with the sun, I asked for a sign with one particular bird. And the God who orchestrates His creation gave it to me.

Lord, I know You often choose not to speak this way, and I can’t assume that the absence of a sign means “no.” It may simply mean You want to speak another way. But when You do speak this way, it is so very encouraging. Thank You for designing well-orchestrated “coincidences.”

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