It’s Not in the Cards

JOKER

For four decades, I held my cards tightly, played defensively, and wagered timidly. I sacrificed big wins in order to secure small returns. It seemed like my conservative strategy was paying off, if only in modest ways.

Then my “luck” changed.

I started losing. And I kept losing until I had no choice but to bet it all. With everything on the line, I peeked at my cards. And I panicked. It was another lousy hand.

But I thought to myself, “I do have a Trump card. God trumps all.”

So, no matter what other cards I had in my hand, I tried to play the God card–over and over again. But my Trump card turned out to be a Wild Card. Every time I tried to lay it down, my Trump card seemed to take on the appearance of a 2 or a 3. It seemed always to be a card in disguise, unwilling to exercise its inherent authority, refusing to assert itself.

After a while, I wasn’t even sure what game I was playing. But whether it was Poker or War or Crazy 8s, the deck seemed stacked against me, and it was becoming clear that my Trump card was no game-changer.

I continued to be one unlucky joker until,  finally, I collapsed like a house of cards.

But it was only when I was all played out that I began to understand some things.

  1. God doesn’t play games.
  2. God will not be played.
  3. Real life is not in the cards.

It’s not really about the cards. I don’t like all the cards in my hand. But I’ve peeked at your hand, and I really don’t want some of your cards either. But no matter what cards we’ve been dealt, it’s not about what’s in our hand. What matters is that we are in His hands.

He knows it’s not easy for us to hold some of our cards. Remember, He’s not playing games with us. For our sake, He dealt Himself the worst hand of all. And as we hold our unwanted cards in trembling hands, He is right there with us—fully present in our pain and struggle.

God is able to give us different cards, if that represents His best for us. But many times—maybe most of the time—He doesn’t.  He works in and through the cards we’ve got. And our Redeemer does some of His best work through our worst cards. Trust me.

I mean, trust Him. He wants to take our losing hand and work through it for His glory and our good.

That’s a win, win.

11 thoughts on “It’s Not in the Cards

  1. Dave, another great post, and I love the card playing analogy. You do so well with those. 🙂 Fabulous truths here.

    Loved this: “God is able to give us different cards, if that represents His best for us. But many times—maybe most of the time—He doesn’t. He works in and through the cards we’ve got. And our Redeemer does some of His best work through our worst cards. Trust me.”

    I’ve tried playing the “God card” too. And it doesn’t work. The question for me boils down to, am I going to strive for life on my terms or accept the life God’s got for me on His terms?

    Very thought provoking today. Thanks!

    • I sincerely appreciate your comments, Jeanne. Thank you for sharing what resonated with you.
      I’ve spent a lot of time trying to discard and acquire replacement cards. I’ve raised my unwanted cards up to God saying, “I’ll take four.” I’ve been slow to learn some important truths.
      Your take-way summary is perfect: “am I going to strive for life on my terms or accept the life God’s got for me on His terms?”
      That’s a question I have to keep asking myself.

    • Thank you for sharing what moved you, Anne. For too long I reacted to difficulty as if “when trouble is present, God is absent” and “when trouble is absent, God is present.” Slowly I’ve begun to understand and embrace the truth that God enters into our suffering with us. As Matt Heard put it, “You’ve never cried alone.”

  2. First: One of the best visuals ever, Dave!
    Second … so may truths tucked into this post, it could have been a two or three parter. Wonderfully encouraging insights.
    ” … our Redeemer does some of His best work through our worst cards.”

    Rock-solid truth.

    • First, thanks for your compliments on the visual. That was fun to do.
      Second, thank you for sharing that you were encouraged. My heart was stirred this week and I was greatly encouraged by the Spirit. I think you are right that there are some things that would be worth expanding upon.
      Thanks again for your comments.

  3. Fits in with what Einstein said – “God is subtle, but He is never malicious.”

    Having had a long run of bad hands, I’ve been tempted to think that God has stacked the deck to teach me a lesson, in the positive or negative sense.

    But they’re just cards. It’s just been life.

    And besides, I’ve got salvation – an unbeatable hole card!

    • Embracing what Einstein asserts about God’s intentions is critical if we are to understand anything.
      Staying open to what God is teaching us through the cards we are holding is the challenging part.
      Your last statement even trumps Einstein’s. “Unbeatable hole card.” Love it.
      Thanks, Andrew!

  4. Great analogy. I laughed out loud at your line about looking at other’s cards, and not really liking them, either. And yes, it’s nice to know He could change them, if He wanted too, but chooses not to for His better purposes. I see the value in “low cards,” but honestly, I still like the high ones!

    • I appreciate you taking the time to share what resonated with you, Amy. I’m with you. I would like to discard the low ones and draw some high cards. I know I have a pretty poor track record of assigning the right value to the cards in my hand, but still I want to take a couple from the draw pile 🙂

      • Ooh–that’s a better way to look at it…”assigning the right value to the cards in my hands.” Hmmm. I’ll have to remember that.

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