No. It’s a word that we seldom like to hear, especially if you’re a kid.
“Mom, can I have a candy bar?” – “no.”
“Mom, can I go to mall with everyone?” – “no.”
“Mom, can I stay home from school?” – “no.”
If you have kids and they’re anything like mine, the answer ‘no’ is not often greeted with an, ‘ok, I trust you and you must have a really good reason.’ It’s more like a nuclear melt down (at least from my 8 year old) and the world is apparently ending. Which leads to a desperate attempt to prevent the end of civilization as we know it by begging, pleading, desperate cries and ultimately some foot stomping and huffing and puffing. All highly effective means of reversing the answer – said no mom ever.
If the situation is really desperate I might even see some behavioral change (albeit temporary) for instance, rooms start being cleaned, kindness drips from lips and I have suddenly become ‘the best mom ever!’ But I’m not holding my breath, the answer is still no and I know that my award is about to be ripped from my hands.
Several years ago my husband lost his job and we found ourselves living with my father-in-law. This was one of the hardest times in my life. I was broken, angry and battling depression. I repeatedly asked God for our own home and repeatedly I heard, ‘no’. Oh how I hated that word. When we finally felt like we could look for our own place again I heard ‘no’ a lot.
How about this one? ‘No.’
Ok, this has got to be it, it’s perfect! ‘No.’
You’re right, that one wasn’t perfect, this one is! ‘No.’
Seriously, I’m not even looking for perfection, just get me out of here. ‘No.’
Day after day the answer was ‘no’. I begged God, questioned God and tried to figure out how I could persuade Him. “The best God ever award is all yours Jesus!”
I was convinced that I was doing something wrong, being punished or had simply fallen out of grace. I didn’t understand how we could be in this situation when we not only loved God but we served Him, as a living even! We were in full-time ministry. We ate, slept and breathed ministry, so how could this be our reality!?
Ahem – yeah, because God isn’t keeping score and handing out ‘yeses’ to those who serve the most or give up the most or make the most persuasive argument. God hands out a ‘yes’ when it’s right and good according to His plans. On the flip side, God hands out a ‘no’ when He’s got something else planned and His plans are ones we can trust.
The pain of no
If we could see that God’s no’s are perhaps the most gracious gift He gives we would find life-changing peace and joy. Don’t get me wrong, I was handed a big, fat, painful ‘no’ this week and it took literally 4 days of tears and heartache to even begin to see a glimmer of peace. But now I’m sitting here on the other side and I am resting in His plans and hope is starting to simmer in my soul again.
I remember one day my husband and I were looking at a house to possibly rent. I really liked the house, it wasn’t perfect but it was a house and it wasn’t my father-in-law’s so at the time it met all my requirements. We walked around and around, upstairs, downstairs, front yard, back yard. All we had to do was say, ‘yes’ and it was done. But I couldn’t say it. Something inside of me kept saying, ‘no’. Dang it! Why God!?
That was just before Christmas and once again I knew that we’d be spending another holiday not in our own home. Another year of not decorating with all my things, another Christmas morning with my kids not in their own rooms, another year before it would even be a possibility again. But I had a choice to make. We could’ve said ‘yes’ to that house, it would’ve worked and I would’ve been in my own place. It would have been a momentary win but an overall loss because I would’ve missed out on God’s best.
the joy of no
Just a few weeks later on Christmas Eve I sat backstage waiting for my cue and was talking with a friend. He asked how things were going and I was honest. I expressed how we just couldn’t find a place to live. Then, as if it were nothing he said, ‘rent my house, we want to downsize and we’re going house shopping the day after Christmas! It’d be perfect for you!’ I laughed it off, terrified to even think such lofty thoughts. A week later we were making arrangements and agreements and God’s plan was revealed.
That was almost 3 years ago and now I can clearly see and understand God’s ‘no’.
God’s ‘no’ is always greater than our ‘yes’.
What we think is perfect and flawless and obvious is not always what it seems. We have to learn to trust our God, that He really is good, He loves us and He has a plan that is beautiful and messy and perfect. We need to learn to find peace when He says ‘no’.
Be thankful for the no. You have no idea what God is sparing you from. If God doesn’t want you to have it then trust me, you don’t want it. Back to this week and my 4 days of crying and asking God, why not!? You know, I don’t really have a clear answer but I do have a deep peace. And I have a history with God where I can see when His no’s have led to amazing yeses. So I can trust this no, and the others that will come, because God has a plan and that’s the plan I want to live out.