How Many Times Do I Have To Tell You – NO
How Many Times Do I Have To Tell You – NO
Not only do we dislike saying it, we don’t like hearing it either. In fact, I used to think that growing up meant the end of “no.” After all, I would get to make the decisions, and I certainly would not tell myself “no.” I would tell myself “yes.”
I would tell myself “yes” to Ding Dongs and Oreos and Twix. I would tell myself “yes” to the whole jar of peanut butter, the whole can of whip cream, the whole 3-layer cake. “Yes” to staying up as late as I wanted, watching whatever I wanted, sleeping in the next morning as late as I wanted. “Yes” to expensive shopping sprees and indulgent vacations. “Yes” seemed to be the ticket to freedom, to adventure, to excitement, to satisfaction. But alas, it’s just not true.
“Yes” isn’t the ticket to freedom, not really. In fact, habitual and uncontrolled “yes” without self-control and discernment, without wisdom and restraint, can actually be the road to slavery. It can lead to a prison of our own construction, by our own hands. While we may be free to say “yes” to whatever we want to say “yes” to, doing so doesn’t bring us more happiness. Actually it only leads to emptiness.
What if hearing “no” from our heavenly Father is not negative?
What if it’s not mean?
What if it’s not insensitive?
What is it’s not oppressive?
Is it possible that a sovereign “no” is actually beautiful? Could it also be loving, considerate, gracious, and merciful?
We’ve vilified the One who knows us best. He created us. He has a plan for us. He died for us. When He says “no” we often think that either He doesn’t hear us or that He doesn’t care. Neither are true. He does hear. He does care. In fact, He cares enough to say “No.”
Scripture tells us that Paul wrestled with an unknown ‘thorn in the flesh.’ We read that he asked God repeatedly to remove it. That’s a simple enough request for the God of the universe. Seems to me that Paul’s ministry might be stronger without the thorn. It’s distracting Paul, discouraging him. Paul was a bold and courageous minister of the Gospel. He deserved for it to be removed, deserved for God to say “yes.” Surely if God removed the throne, Paul would have testified of God’s goodness, compassion, and power. But God said “no.” Paul was assured that “My grace is sufficient; My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
God’s “no” wasn’t and isn’t flat or flippant. It was and is rich and multi-dimensional. God’s “no” is actually more like an invitation to go to a deeper level of trust, love, and faith. When He says “no” do we trust Him enough to know that He still loves us? Will you still believe that He has a plan for you? Can we dare to trust that He is enough no matter what the circumstances?
God is not the supreme sugar daddy. Nor is He our bellhop, constantly waiting for us to make a request to fulfill. Neither is He the highway trooper who lies in wait for us to mess up. He doesn’t carry some cosmic lightening rod ready to zap us when we mess up. God is good all the time; all the time God is good. But that doesn’t mean He is obligated to give us any and everything we ask for. He loves us more than that.
Besides, He has already given us everything we need for life and godliness in the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. We have forgiveness of our sins and the hope of life eternal with Him. “The joy of the Lord is our strength.” He walks with us each day. His Holy Spirit lives inside of us and guides us. He grants us strength for each day. He has lavishly given us all we need.
Here again, the “no” we receive is a lot less about us and a lot more about Him. When we hear “no” we take it personally, and often allow our emotions to get the best of us. We whine and complain when we get a “no.” For what it’s worth, we wouldn’t and shouldn’t allow such behavior from our kids. But we mope. We sulk. We pout.
Think about that for a moment.
What God says “no” they are a divine set up for His glorious plan, for His protection, for His provision, for His praise. God’s ways are not our ways. We base our plans on things making sense. We’re admonished, “lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.”
His path takes us straight to Him, straight through sanctification, straight to selflessness, humility, and love. His path takes us to the end of ourselves, through the valley of the shadow, through fire and water. On this side of eternity, it’s wonky, full of ups and downs. Sometimes we’re on the path, sometimes not. From this side, His designated path for us doesn’t look straight—at all! But from the perspective of eternity, it’s a straight shot. It’s the way we need to go.
“No.” It’s a little word filled with protection. “No” knows better. It knows that there are things we cannot see, things we underestimate, things we don’t think matter. God’s “no” says, “I love you, and I know what’s best for you. Trust Me. The answer is ‘No.’”