You know what I’m talking about.
A girl dumps her boyfriend out of the blue. A guy suddenly drops out of school to raise cattle in Asia. Your friend decides to give away everything he owns to the poor…
And they all pull the “God card.”
The term has acquired a very negative connotation. We say someone “pulled the God card” when he had no logical reason for doing something apart from feeling like God told him to. It’s the most potent card in the deck because it can’t be combated. No one can say, “God didn’t tell you that,” because we don’t know others’ hearts or their relationships with God. And if it is His will, who could possibly fight it?
It’s tricky, to put it lightly. We shouldn’t use the “God card” every time we want to get our way. But it doesn’t mean we should throw it out altogether either. We shouldn’t stop listening and responding to God’s nudges—that would be taking steps backward. So what do we do?
I’ve learned the solution lies in the other cards in your hand. Though we hold a “God card” (the feeling that God is calling us to do something), He’s also equipped us with a handful of other cards that need to be played along with it.
For one, we need to play a “Bible card” if we want to play a “God card,” because He won’t ever tell us to do something that doesn’t align with His Word. For example, He will never “call you” to steal, because He clearly speaks against that in the Bible. The Lord will never call us to sin. But that doesn’t mean everything He asks us to do will be pleasant. Roses have thorns, and what He asks of us may be very difficult for us or those we love.
We also should play a “Peace card” with a “God card.” And just to clarify, peace is very different from joy. It’s also very different from confidence. Though we may be unhappy about something God’s calling us to do, and we might not feel equipped to do it, we can still have peace. God’s peace “surpasses understanding” (Philippians 4:7). It’s something only the Lord can give, and you can feel it even when the situation doesn’t seem fitting. True peace in the midst of confusion is straight from God, and He won’t withhold it from us if we’re seeking Him in prayer about all things. If we don’t feel it, maybe we should re-evaluate what we think He’s communicating.
Another card we hold is the affirmation of trusted friends and family. If we’re surrounded by godly men and women who are earnestly pursuing the Lord, we should be able to trust their judgement. However, if those around us are easily swayed by biases, we need to be careful. When you tell your mom you’re going to pick up and move to Africa, for example, her initial reaction probably won’t be elation. She’ll likely have a hard time separating the truth that God’s calling you to this from her emotional desire that you stay close to her. We should still confide in our loved ones—they know us best—but also seek the counsel of godly people who might not be as emotionally tied to us. They’ll likely have a clearer perspective.
Let me be sure and say none of these “cards” are things I invented. They’re all tools for following the Lord that I’ve been taught over the years, and I’m still constantly struggling and learning how to actually live them out in my life. But I wanted to share them because I think they’re so important. And I think we (including me) try to rely on our simple “feelings” way too often. It’s so easy to say “God told me this” without comparing it to what He says through His Word, His peace, and His people.
So be a responsible player of the “God card,” and don’t roll your eyes when someone pulls one of his own. Instead, challenge people to be sure they’re playing it with the other three cards too, and spur them on to continue to hear the voice of God and obey it. Play your “God card,” but don’t play it alone.