God told me to write this post.

“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.

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36 thoughts on “God told me to write this post.

  1. Through my experience I have concluded that my own heart cannot be trusted when it comes to selecting a suitable mate. A satisfactory marriage doesn’t depend on how much I love the person.

    I would get a great deal of comfort if God told me.

    There are some Old Testament bible scriptures where God did in fact give instructions in regard to the selection of a specific mate.

    The New Testament also instruct Christians to; “Marry in the Lord” and also that a virgin should be married. There are a few other instructions allowing marriage to a widow in certain circumstances.

  2. I wrote about this very thing a month ago myself ๐Ÿ™‚ Great minds think alike right…I think it’s kind of tacky to link back to my own website but I don’t want to repeat myself so here’s that post:
    http://hearttoheart.wordpress.com/2008/01/14/god-told-you-what/

    I knew an older Christian businessman who owned a trucking company (he had a lot of cha-ching)…some pastor came up to him and said those three words…”The Lord said”…that I was supposed to come to you for some financial help…:-)…to which the old gentleman replied..”That’s funny, I just talked to him this morning and he didn’t mention anything to me.”
    I don’t even trust myself when I “think” I hear something..so there is NO WAY I am going to sit still when someone comes to me and tries to pull that sort of stuff on me.

  3. You know… I do believe god talks to me. Gives me messages. I have written about these in my blog. I don’t go around asking people to marry me over them. Usually its things like, keep the faith, everything will be ok.

    I have always heard God since I was a child. Maybe I am weird.

    What I personally have a problem with is people speaking in tongues. Whatever!….

  4. Isaiah: If only life were that simple! God didn’t give us autonomy just for us to never exercise it. While God has (and may continue to) speak to the relationships he wants us to have and who they should be with… don’t stop living just to wait.

    DM: that is a great story! I’ll be sure to check the link.

    Amber: I do believe that God speaks, and I’m sure he does speak to you. I just don’t think he’d want us to use him the way we do. It’s personal, isn’t it? It’s about our relationship with him and what we need, not manipulating others or inflating our self importance.

  5. I know a story about an assistant Pastor of an Assembly of God Church who was convinced that the Holy Spirit’s “still small voice” told him to start his own Church. He sold everything, moved his family, and put every dime into purchasing a building he thought God was going to bless into a successful church, It failed.

    I wonder how many nights that man cried out to God “But you TOLD me Lord…” trusting that God was going to uphold him for going out on a limb with what he probably saw as acting on blind faith, with that assuredness of that “still small voice.”

    I’m a Pentecostal, and we are notorious for seeing the supernatural behind every tree, so I’ve seen the fanaticism of thinking God Is telling you not to put mustard on a hot dog. We Have turned the all-powerful voice of God into a harping nag and a control freak.

    The Catholics have a term called “God’s Divine Providence” and I trust that working of God in everything we do, without a constant voice, small or otherwise.

    Hi Shush. ::small waving::

  6. Ah… Pentecostal! God in every breeze and a demon under every teacup! (That’s the Mennonite description of Pentecostals. I can’t say I know enough to affirm it.)

    Hi Franc! ::waves back::

    Hearing God and having faith in the Spirit’s presence can be a maddening thing, but faith and faithfulness are so often their own reward. I know many people who would hear that story and unblinkingly say, “God may have wanted to teach him about humility and brokenness.” They might even be right.

  7. I have run into this in my life a few times. And I agree with isaiah30v8, the heart cannot be trusted, since it is deceitful above all things. I play guitar and can hold a note, so to some that “qualifies” me to lead a song service I guess. At one point a few years ago when my wife and I were looking for a church, we had three local pastors tell us, “God said you are supposed to be at our church.” Now someone wasn’t hearing right. I think each church had a need we could help fill, but we cannot project our needs as a word from god for someone else.

    Paul said not to give money to the church out of compulsion, why would we have to *enter “word from God” here* out of compulsion?

    – peace

  8. see, this is why I like to be first…. everyone has already made all the good points…. grrr…

    I guess I’ll just wave ::waves to EVERYBODY::

    SDG,
    Matty

  9. Quote from Shush:

    “Ahโ€ฆ Pentecostal! God in every breeze and a demon under every teacup! (Thatโ€™s the Mennonite description of Pentecostals. I canโ€™t say I know enough to affirm it.)”

    LOL. The baptist used to call us Holy Rollers because we would literaly roll around in the isles during services.

    Good point Shush, but another person would bring up the scripture “Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he?

    God doesn’t pull the wool from under us if we follow what he says.

    ::waves back to Matthew::

  10. Oh man, I have heard so many times… “God has told me that I’ll marry your brother-in-law.” Why do they always call me up and talk to me and tell me that? You know what I always say? “Are you sure it was God or are your own emotions getting in the way? You need to pray about this a bit more.” One of these has been waiting on the guy (middle boy in my husband’s family. My husband is oldest) for nine or ten years. She is not giving up and has turned other men down. The problem is, he doesn’t feel that way. He has another girl in mind and it is serious. At the moment, this maid-in-waiting doesn’t know, but I expect fireworks when she finds out.

    Anyway, I’ve heard that way too many times. That phrase annoys me to no end. In my last church, the pastor told me that God had shown him how well I was with young children and that I should work with them. I replied, “That’s not the way He is leading me.” He never let off of me until we moved and then told the Youth Director (I had worked with youth there) that God “took” me out of there because I wasn’t following His will. The youth director said, “Really? That’s not how I interpret it.” Why had we gone to a church where we didn’t agree with the Pastor… God told us to. LoL Had to say it.

  11. I have generally believed God is more subtle and doesn’t just tell people what they want to hear. We have to listen. Great post.

  12. Can I please, pretty please, have a nickel for every time I’ve heard those words in my life? If I did, you’d all be welcome to spend the weekend at my private beach house on Maui, but until then how about just sharing a table at Starbucks and splitting the tab?

    I can live with the whole “God told me to paint my face green and plant myself in the park” but I get a little widgety when it’s “God told me to tell you to paint your face green and plant yourself in the park.” Uh. So what you’re saying is that God really wanted to tell me something but thought I might not listen to the Holy Spirit within my own life but if it were to come from you, that would settle the matter for me? Yeah. Okay. Here’s a thought. Since God has chosen you to be my mediator (funny, I thought that position had already been filled?) would you report back to God that the minute God speaks to me personally I’ll back up my paint brush and head out the door to Benjamin Moore but until then I’m hanging with this rather pale flesh color.

    Okay, THAT contributed nothing to your brilliant post other than to say in my own rambling, highly caffeinated response that I like what you wrote…yet again.

  13. Nicely said.

    That’s the problem with trying to have a conversation with religious people sometimes, especially when there’s a conflict in religious views: It’s impossible to carry on a rational conversation when they throw something like that at you.

    Also, your post reminded me of a nice little Houseism (tv junkie, sorry) that goes something like this …

    “No, if you talk to God you’re religious. If God talks to you you’re psychotic.”

    =D

  14. Very nicely said…

    However, I gotta say, I’m a bit saddened to see so many people put so much distrust into their hearts :-/

    Regardless of how past experiences trusting your heart may have ended, that doesn’t make them all bad. God made your heart just as anything else in your body, and in order to honor ones temple, one should at least pay attention to what it’s trying to say…

    But then, that’s all just random bits of opinion from a random person online.

    -Billy

  15. Ah, yes. If I didn’t do anything until God – immediately, personally, directly – told me to do it, I’d still be in the lecture hall where I was converted.

    If we want to hear God speak, isn’t there some sort of book..? A history of God’s interaction with humanity?

    When other people say, “God told me” I wonder if it’s like when I have an idea or a thought or a passage comes to mind: I call it a thought, or recalling a passage from the Bible. God most often speaks to us through these things, I suspect, than directly.

    But then, I’m me. God deals with each of us in the way that God deals with each of us. But He’s given us enough of His words in the Bible to deal with. But it would be nice to know what job He wants me to have, what woman He wants me to marry, where He wants me to live, what pet He wants me to have, what colour socks He wants me to put on…

  16. I believe in God’s “still, small voice”… but I also believe the Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”

    The most chilling instance of “God told me” I know? Ron and Dan Lafferty’s killings of their younger brother’s wife and infant because “God told them to.”

  17. Nice post.
    I have had roomates in Bible college who would pull the “God told me card” for every flight of fancy they had. After a few months it became apparent to me that God must change his mind a lot, because he kept telling people things that contradicted yesterday’s instruction!

    I appreciate your post.

    Blessings!

  18. Brilliant post reply Anita. Well articulated and the whole deal of “God told me” so succinctly summarised!

  19. I guess that for me personally, I just pray alot.IT seems that whatever I question or worry about that God always gives me a better view when I wake up the next day.I’ve never had God speak to me out loud but I do believe he is always near me and looking out for me,just as he does for all christians.The Bible tells of the many miracles that God/Jesus did do in front of large crowds and that is good enough for me.WE are allowed to follow his words if we choose too.I don’t have to see him to know he is there and I don’t have to hear words out loud to know that he is there.I’m thinking that God just wants us to believe(have faith) in him and the Bible and again that is good enough for me.What more could we really ask for? IF I had listened more closely for Gods advice then I’m pretty darn sure I would not have married a sociopath,and I am NOT JOKING.

  20. EVERYONE: I would love to reply to everyone, but I got up this morning to see 17 comments on this blog, and, well, I have two little kids so there’s NO way I’d have enough time. So, I will reply to just one theme that seems to be popping up.
    Proverbs 16:23 A wise man’s heart guides his mouth,
    and his lips promote instruction

    While the Bible does have a lot to say about the wickedness of the hearts of men, I don’t believe that “wickedness” is birthed from the heart but from the soul. A soul aligned with God will bring all other things into form. While it won’t be done perfectly, because we are imperfect, I believe that if people truly and above all else love God uncompromisingly, God will reward them with GOOD desires.

    Do not mock or devalue that which God created. He created you, he created your hearts, if you ask him for good desires he won’t reward you with temptation. He will provide.

    That’s all for now. ๐Ÿ˜€

    Except: PolitiP: that one made me laugh. You realize Rush’s talent is on loan for God? God should call that one in. Or has he already?

  21. Great post…

    Tell you why… from my point of vieuw ofcours… ๐Ÿ˜€
    Lot’s of people talk to much. It could be that God told them, but it doesn’t mean we have to squeel about it. When God tells me something or shows me something, I pray first. If I’m not allowed to tell (I try) not to tell.
    Only when He tells me to say something I will speak.

    It could have been that this guy you wrote had heard the word of God for you to marry him. Hey, could just have been, but it doesn’t mean he should have told you. He should have prayed for you and love you. First Place. What he did was pushing his own desire and will into God’s word and didn’t wait for God to do His own work.

    We should grab when God shows us something. We should ask for guidance to do or to speak. It is not always easy.

    Is it the right thing to say… “God told me…” ? Yep, but only when God told you to tell… otherwise… ssshhhh… be still… be quite… and pray … and thank God… because He is able to finish whatever He has started.
    ๐Ÿ˜‰
    God bless

  22. “…though never a marriage proposal. That one takes the cake.”

    Prepare to be astounded: that line is used a lot more often than you might think.

  23. My husband and I refer to lines like “God told me…” etc., as ‘playing the God card,’ as in, it trumps everything else, and the thing is, you just can’t get over the feeling that someone isn’t playing fair.

    We use those kind of lines with each other from time to time… then laugh.

  24. Hi Sushi Thanks for the great blog. There are sure some interesting points on the subject of ‘God told me…’ I love Anita’s responce. I am reminded of the words of Paul when he said if someone prophesies the other prophets should try the spirits to judge it’s authenticity (paraphrased). And the scripture that everything was confirmed by two or three witnessnesses. I guess that certainly disqualifies the God told me to marry you one! I’m sure that IF God had told this dude to marry you He’d have let you know too!
    I find the arrogance of people who think they speak for God as Idolatry. They are actually making themselves out to be God and know His will for someone else.

  25. Hey.

    I can undestand that at certain times people do get it wrong when God ‘tells them something’.
    Im 18; and 3 years ago I believe that God told me who I’m going to end up marrying. It kinda freaked me out a little, especially as the guy was 12 back then!
    I’ve gona out with other guys obvioucly since; but everytime I do I get a guilty feeling and a knowing that whoever the boyfriend is at the time isn’t the one for me. And I KNOW that God is saying; ‘you know who you’re going to marry’. Recently God has been telling me in more ways than one and there are times in which not everything can be a coincidence anymore! I havent told the guy that Im going to marry him; there’s no need- he will only find out on the day he proposes to me (infact Ive actually written him a letter that I will give to him on that day. I cant wait to see the look on his face when he finds out how long I have known! :D)
    So to anyone who thinks they have been told who they are going to marry; dont give up on what you think God has told you; instead pray about it, and tell someone you trust to pray about it too and see if God says anything to them.

  26. thatdudeyouknow: thank you!
    elizanderson: thank you, that was very insightful. I know that if four or five people told me God told them something, and they all came to it independently, I’d listen!
    pinkity66: For your sake I hope that he listens to God’s direction, if it truly is God destining you to be together. Just keep in mind that while you have heard- he may not. Even if it is God (which, with you just being a commenter on my blog I have no way to really verify) that still isn’t a guarantee- HE may be unwilling to listen. I’ll say a prayer for you, sweetie. Guard your heart.

  27. Hi..I am so glad I came across your webpage. While praying for a lifepartner and being counselled for something else, I had a pastor(who was my counsellor for a short time) tell me that God had told him that he was to marry me.I never saw that coming, and I immediately found him repulsive. God had apparently spoken VOLUMES to him about me…and I had not even heard a whisper from God. And he has not stopped texting me ever since even after I had told him to stop. A lot of people in the church find this hard to believe ( he was greatly respected and was in the prophetic ministry – lots of his visions and prophecies came true,apparently) and the head pastor had stopped talking to me.They were just closing ranks. I have stopped going to that church, but that pastor continues to be there. I had really felt betrayed by God….and men of God. I am slowly coming back to the faith…but yes, these are treacherous times. Jeremiah 17:9 and Matthew 7:22-23

  28. i feel called to marry a boy and have for three years.
    i hate hearing it but it just keeps coming up…everywhere!!
    im 17 i dont understand why God would tell me this when i am so young…so i dont know whether to believe its God or not.
    i pray and pray and pray but i still feel like its going to happen.
    anyone want to shed some light? x

  29. duckie.moo: I don’t have an explanation for you, but I can relate. You’re not alone, for some reason that helps to know. All I can say is be very careful. Something similar happened to me multiple times (about the same girl of course) and it freaked me out. I’d never tell her what I heard though. At first it seemed like a blessing but now it’s more of a burden. One of my biggest questions is, “Why do I need to know this?” My biggest fear is that I’m just another person who thinks he hears from God when he really doesn’t. I hear people saying God told them things all the time and I usually think they’re crazy. Ha, now I’m the crazy one. I try not to think about it but, of course I can’t help it. It was so random and real. I didn’t even ask for the information, I wasn’t even praying the first time it happened. It was just a sudden rush of God’s presence like I hadn’t felt in years. Right now, it truly seems impossible. I go 100% back and forth with it all the time. I almost wish I never heard it.

  30. I know this is an uber old thread, but I feel I need to say some stuff. I was reeeally dumb and asked God who I was going to marry back in 8th grade which was about 6 years ago. I had made a list of what I wanted in a girl and such, but I have no idea why I even needed an answer to the question. So, anyway, I want to make this clear: God did not tell me anything. He only showed me what was going to happen. There was one girl in my class that I had never even given thought to that suddenly jumped off the charts as the perfect woman. I kept asking God about it and He kept giving me signs and such to keep my interest. It’s 6 years later and I haven’t had a mind to even consider dating someone else. In fact, it feels wrong whenever I think about if I were to date someone else. Don’t get me wrong, I would’ve dated someone a long time ago had I not gotten an answer. It just seems to me that each time I doubt, there’s always another little reminder of some sort and I keep on pushing through. God also told me some stuff while I’ve been on this journey. First off, I am not to love this girl as if we were married. I am to love her as my sister in Christ first and foremost, then as a person. Second, God told me that I need to focus on my life, not hers. As I do what God tells me to do, He will make things happen. If it ends up that indeed we were meant to be together, then He will make it happen. The problem with other people, especially if they say God has told them to marry someone or whatever, they need to rein in those emotions and let God do the work. If He says it’s going to happen, take a leap of faith and let GOD make it happen. Over the past several years, I’ve had some time to think and one of the things that I noticed is this: We often call God the “Author of Life.” We take that figuratively, but what do you think is the thought behind that? God is indeed the author of life. Why? Because an author has a vision for the book. He plans it out from beginning to end. No matter how many twists and turns that the plot takes, it ALWAYS gets to the point that the author was trying to make. So let the author do the work. God will see you out to completion. You just have to believe.

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