In the mid-1400s in France, Joan of Arc, a teenage girl who was continually engaged in prayer, began to hear what she said were the voices of angels, which she called her “counseling.” She claimed Archangel Michael told her that God had given her a critical mission that would involve the fate of France.
Michael told her she was needed to help expel France’s enemies, the English, and install Charles VII as rightful king. In her visions, Joan was instructed to meet Charles VII.
After many failed attempts, she finally gained entry to the court of Charles VII and promised him that she would soon see Charles crowned King of France. Against her better judgment, Charles gave Joan armor, weapons, a horse, and an entire army to lead. After leading his soldiers into many quick battles and helping strategize with French military commanders, the English were expelled from France. Charles VII became king as Joan had announced, and it all happened before Joan’s 19th birthday.
In 1829, a former congressman from Tennessee, Sam Houston.
A white man who was an adopted member of the Cherokee tribe and married a Cherokee woman was forever leaving his home state of Tennessee. On the deck of a riverboat bound for Texas, he felt depressed and empty; he was about to kill himself. At that time, he says, “I was in an agony of despair, strongly tempted to jump overboard and end my worthless life. At this moment, an eagle swooped down near my head, then, flying away with the wildest cries, was lost in the rays of the setting sun. I knew then that a great destiny awaited me in the West.
After the Alamo fell to the Mexican army led by Santa Ana, Sam led an unruly army to win a resounding victory over Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto, and he became the first president of Texas.
In the late 1870s, a confederacy of Northwestern Native American tribes was at war with the United States military. Sitting Bull, a great Lakota warrior and chief, gave thanks and sought advice from his creator while performing what was called “The Sun Dance”. He described a vision in which he saw American soldiers “as thick as grasshoppers” falling upside down in the Lakota camp, which he and his people took as a sign that a major victory would be won against the US Army.
On a fateful day in 1876, General George Armstrong Custer made a serious miscalculation. With a few hundred men, Custer charged on horseback into a Native American village in southern Montana, which encamped about 2,000 warriors, armed with superior repeating rifles, led by Sitting Bull. After a brutal fight that lasted about two hours, Custer and his men suffered a bloody defeat, known as Custer’s Last Stand or The Battle of Little Bighorn.
People are looking for signs, symbols and visions in desperate and uncertain times. Caught in a difficult situation, wanting to make the right decision, hoping to meet the right person, anxious to choose the right career path, many of us will seek advice from above. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, some of us never receive the desired sign, which itself could be a sign.
History is littered with people who claimed to see signs and visions that confirmed they would do great things. Did Joan of Arc talk to Archangel Michael or was she crazy? When Sam Houston was saved from suicide by a howling eagle, did that mean he was destined for great things, or did he derive false meaning from a random event? Is it true that Sitting Bull had a vision of the spirit realm, or was he just visualizing the outcome of what he hoped would happen?
One thing is certain. They were intimately convinced of the success of their mission. When you find yourself at a crossroads looking for a sign, no matter how you go, do it with unwavering faith, don’t look back. As you get closer to the target, don’t step back, stoke the fire within, cast aside all doubt, and step forward with confidence with every step you take.
Toby Moore is a columnist, star of the Emmy-nominated film “A Separate Peace,” and CEO of CubeStream Inc. He resides in Bourbonnais and can be reached through the Daily Journal at [email protected]