“God told me to marry you,” a nervous teen told me, an equally nervous teen, at a convention.
“Really?” I replied, a little sarcastically. “Did he give you chocolates for me? I love chocolate.”
The boy looked a little embarrassed, “I’m not joking,” he said.
“I’m sorry. I just… I don’t know. Maybe if we’re friends for a while, but right now? No. Not interested.”
“Maybe everyone was right about you,” he replied.
I didn’t need to ask him what he meant. Kids are less than kind to each other, and I might as well have hung a sign around my neck saying;
Shush is a man eating bitch
Those who knew me well knew it was because I’d been sorely mistreated in the past. Everyone else assumed I was a lesbian.
That’s not the point of this post. The point of this post is those three little words that many Christians adore saying. No, not “I love you.” These ones pack a bigger punch. “God told me.”
God told me you need a pick me up, so I brought you a coffee. God told me you need to work on this, or that, or the other thing. I was praying about who to have on the prayer ministry, and God told me your name. I was thinking about who could volunteer for the nursery, and God told me to ask you. Or, God told me to date you. God told me to marry you.
It’s simply not fair. While in all of those situations God very well may have been telling someone something true, the phrasing makes it almost impossible to disagree. God told you that Sarah should be in the nursery? What is Sarah’s response? She has to either say yes or feel like a bad churchgoer. What if God told you to invite Bob on the prayer team, and Bob feels strongly that public prayer is prideful? How in the world should he reply? Even more manipulative is God picking out people’s future mates. I know one man who felt very, very strongly that God told him who he should marry. Several years and babies later, she still doesn’t know. He felt that by telling her he was manipulating her feelings. He wanted to go out, to win her heart, to treat her like a queen. He wanted to feel that she married him out of love, not out of obligation.
I feel as if we sometimes mistake our own intuition for the voice of God as well. You may simply have a sense that a friend is down and needs a phone call or a latte. It feels pretty good to say that God told you. In a way, it may be. It may be God-by-proxy. God’s gift of empathy and compassion may be motivating you. It may be that mysterious sixth sense that is so hard to place a finger on. The Holy Spirit might truly be involved. But is it really, truly honest to say those three little words? Is it really God telling you?
We cheapen God’s voice by making it sound commonplace. I’m not saying that God isn’t there, every second of the day. I’m not saying that the Spirit doesn’t move on you about the most banal and ridiculous things. God does truly care about our daily life, he cares about us needing an afternoon pick me up or affirming phone call. He moves through the ether, driving chance. He is there. He is acting. But is he speaking? God’s elusive voice is something we shouldn’t take for granted, and we shouldn’t treat it as casually as a “hello” or “how are you.” It’s not an introductory phrase for every sentence.
It is precious. It is sacred.
Treat it like it.