In our first lesson from Genesis 24, We see Isaac’s man-servant going out to find a wife for Isaac. According to the instructions from Abraham, he is going only to Abraham’s kinsfolk. As he approaches the neighborhood, he stops and prays to God to help him find a mate for Isaac. And he doesn’t leave it open to interpretation. He asks for a specific sign (that the woman who gives him water, will also offer to water his camels) so that he will know without a doubt that he has received an answer.
As I was graduating from seminary, I was questioning what God was calling me to do and where he was calling me to be. I thought I was going one place, but then John Logan, then Canon to the Ordinary, called and asked me to go interview in Huntsville for an assistant rector/campus minister position there. I remember praying on the way to Huntsville asking for a sign. I decided that the sign would be that I would be able to see outside from the nave. When I walked into the nave, there were three clear glass windows on either side of the congregation and a large clear glass window behind the altar showing the forest behind it. I had my answer.
I don’t think that the sign we ask for is arbitrary. I believe that God places that specific sign in our mind so that he can answer our question without a doubt. If you don’t ask for a specific sign, it might be possible to miss (or misinterpret) God’s message for you.