When I was in college, a friend of mine grew uneasy. Should he keep dating Wendy, his long-time girlfriend, or did God have a better plan with someone else?
John decided to ask God for a sign.
Since he and Wendy enjoyed playing cribbage, a card game, he prayed something like this:
“God, if you don’t want me to date Wendy anymore, please give me a 29 hand.”
In cribbage, 29 is the most points you can score on your own with the five cards in your hand. The odds of getting a perfect 29 hand in a 2 player game are 1 in 216,580.
John got a 29.
Then John felt even more confused. Was God giving him a sign in answer to his prayer? Or was it all just an against-all-odds coincidence? Was the devil involved?
Neither of us knew. We all should know that God is a) under no obligation to tell people anything and b) not in the habit of providing direct verbal answers to prayers via, say, skywriting – John, break up with Wendy.
Yet couldn’t we ask God for a sign, at least occasionally? Hasn’t God ever given people signs?
Yes. God appeared to Abraham with a smoking firepot and a blazing torch to give him a sign (Genesis 15:8-17)
The LORD gave signs such as a staff that turned into a snake and a hand that turned leprous to help Moses reassure the Israelites (Exodus 4:1-9).
Gideon asked for and received a sign of a fleece that was dry while the ground all around it was wet with dew. The next morning the reverse happened (Judges 6:17, 36-40).
God showed King Hezekiah that he would not die from a dread disease; God made a shadow go backwards ten steps on a stairway (2 Kings 20:8-11).
On the other hand, Jesus orders us not to test God (Matthew 4:7). We should never demand a sign or message from God while thinking that if God fails to come through, we will refuse to honor him.
We should also never ask God for a sign about something he has forbidden. Don’t pray, then, “God, if you want me to move in with my boyfriend before we’re married, please do this or that.”
Instead, recall what Moses told the Israelites, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29).
- God keeps secrets. There are many things he won’t tell you, even if you ask.
- God has uncovered many things to us in the Bible. Confused? Facing a tough decision? Read and treasure God’s Word (Psalms 23 or Psalm 25 are great places to start). God’s Word lasts forever.
- Whatever God has uncovered in the Bible will lead us to obey all God has told us to do. No Bible verse will lead us to disobey God.
What happened to John and Wendy, by the way? They broke up. Both later married other persons and had children. They remain happily married. Above all, they trust Jesus as their Savior.