When does a no answer really mean no, nada, or nay? It is easy when it is a decision directly touching another. Yet when the question centers on an action for a group the black and white fork in the road often becomes a statue with many heads and arms. The questions are simple, the answers confusing.
The irony is that the signals we take for yes and no varies by culture. One can easily assume that a person head’s nodding side to side means no; in India this signals usually means a strong and emotionally binding yes. One easily assumes that the Japanese response to each sentence implies their consent; it is critical to remember that the word “hai” literally means “I hear you”. The confusion between cultures, sexes, age groups doesn’t stop at any particular boundary. How can one interpret the signals of Divinity? Is God working through the things around us – yes! Do we often find the signals confusing – yes! Is there a clear answer? Simply put – no.
The dilemma is shown in the story of the Wedding Party.
“When they [the wedding party] started running low on wine at the wedding banquet, Jesus' mother told him, “They're just about out of wine.”
Jesus said, “Is that any of our business, Mother—yours or mine? This isn't my time. Don't push me.”
She went ahead anyway, telling the servants, “Whatever he tells you, do it.”” (John 2.3-5)
The answer to all of this lies in what happens when someone goes against the apparent wishes of God – always give God the freedom to act and accept the answer with gracious thanksgiving.
I find God sending signals while strolling down M.G. Road in Bangalore. Take the time to observe what is happening on the late night flight – God at work again. Different places, 24×7, across cultures, boundaries, and economies one can find God at work. Everyone is an opportunity for you and me to listen, dialogue, and act. Mysterious grace, mercy, and action occur every time we give God the same freedom Divinity gives us.