When God Says "No"
“No! Mine!!” Oh, the delights of living with a 2 year old. Isn’t it amazing how we never have to teach these two words to a small child. They seem to pick it up all on their own. I have three children (well past this stage) and not once did I have to repeat “You say ‘no’ when you don’t want something.” Or, “If someone tries to take something from you, say, ‘mine’.” I am smiling even as I write this. These little guys seem to get it at the beginning of their language learning. From the moment of their first utterance of “NO!!!!” we begin the process of teaching them that we can’t always have what we want. Harsh reality, but truth nonetheless.
I had an epiphany today. It actually started yesterday when a friend was talking to me about her own epiphany. Isn’t it nice to know that in this Christian walk we are all on a journey, together? Hers was about the concept of God answering our prayers with a “No”. Or rather, an answer different than what we really wanted. So, I had been thinking about God’s answers to prayer in my own life, at least currently in the last 3 years. I have had a lot of no’s. Well, today I was doing discipleship with my oldest daughter, Rebekah, and we are studying the names of God. Our current name is El Elyon – God Most High. We were looking at Deuteronomy 32:39-
See now that I, I am He, and there is no god besides Me; it is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal, and there is no one who can deliver from My hand.
As we were filling in the blanks in our study book about "wounded", I mumbled under my breath, “You sure do.” (Can you believe I would say that???) It was directly at this point that a huge truth hit me. I expect God to wound my enemy. In fact, I pray that He does. Oh, I love my enemies and pray for them, but I also ask God for justice. I want God to push the smite button. I am sure I am not the only one who has people in his/her life that are considered enemies. At least I hope I am not. Anyway. I realized that I have to accept God for all He is and not just who I want Him to be to me. I want Him to wound others, but I want Him to heal me. As we read in the above verse, He is both a wounder and a healer. I can’t have one aspect of God and not the other. He is Who He is. Period. I have to be willing to accept the fact that in His Sovereignty He allows wounds, afflictions, suffering and pain in my life. And it is for my benefit and for His glory.
“Glory to God in the highest.” (Luke 2:14)
With even realizing it, I have a song running through my mind right now. Do you want to know what it is? ‘Festival Gloria.’ It is a new song we were practicing in choir tonight. This brought me to my knees in worship as I recognize what God is doing in my life right now. He is focusing me to give Him all the glory. In everything that I do and say, I can give God glory. And it can be in the every day stuff of life that it happens. Or it can be in the big things. Like, when someone prays for healing and it does not happen – at least what we believe is healing. Or it can be a prayer for a decision and God gives a very different answer to the one we were seeking. We can still say, “All the glory belongs to You Lord.”
In the movie, Facing the Giants, there is a scene that is very gut-wrenching to me. The female lead is having trouble getting pregnant and her husband asks her if she will still love God even if He does not give her a baby. She goes to the doctor because she is having weird symptoms that her friend thinks might be morning sickness. The tests comes back negative. At the car, the actress cries out to the Lord, “I will still love You.” Can we (or I) say that even though we don’t get what we want? Can we really mean it from our hearts and be willing to let go of our desires and let God have His way in us? Can I allow Him to say NO to me? This means not trying to make the answer become a yes. I can do work-arounds in my life if I try hard enough. That would the definition of cunning. I can conjure up circumstances to worm my way into most anything. God is not a candy machine God and I am not a puppet. He does allow things in our lives to help us understand His ultimate sovereignty.
Let me explain by a situation in my family. My husband, John, was needing to change his job. Circumstances at work were not great and it was not a very family-friendly place. We had been praying about it for quite some time, but nothing was happening. He went on a business trip and the environment was worse than ever. He called me and told me that he really couldn’t go on. When he got home, he made a call to guys that he had worked with before but had started up a new company. Would they be interested in hiring him? We prayed about it and felt such an overwhelming sense of peace and knew this was the place for him – they even interviewed me because they wanted to make sure we were both happy with this new position. Wow. Well, John went to a meeting at church that evening and a friend told him that he had been wanting to talk with him because a position had just opened up in a missionary leadership role and they had wanted to ask John. When we had left Guatemala, John had really wanted this kind of job. It was his dream job. He could almost taste it. He barely made it through the door at home, he was bursting with excitement. His dream job! What he had always wanted. But wait. He had just said yes to this other company. Just that day. What was he going to do? We had to do a lot of praying and soul-searching that night. Bottom-line? We felt that God was asking us, “Do you want what you want, or do you want what I want – that which is best. I mean really the best? Are you willing to say no to this dream in order to say yes to Me?” John has been happily employed with WGR-Southwest (click here to see the WGR's website and all the exciting things they are doing) for 18 years. It really has been an amazing journey for him and for us. He has done things in his career that he never thought possible. The other job – the missions one? Once John said no, it faded from his mind. It was not God’s best for him. So what we thought was a NO from God has been, in reality, an huge yes.
Did we give Him glory through the process? We did. Honestly and truly. Because we knew without a shadow of doubt He had our best interests in mind. Was it hard to pack up and leave family and go 400 miles away and start over? Of course. But it has been awesome. Why? Because God is Sovereign. And we let Him be. We got something right. And He gets ALL the glory. Always.