When God says “No” to Good Things

I’ve hated the word since I was a child. “No” – two little letters that tangled together to make my least favorite sound. Such a small word, bearing so much weight. Whether it was the sleepover denied, the ice cream before dinner, or the birthday party at the zoo, I grew up believing that this word stole all the very best of life from me.

This animosity toward the word “no” has been resurrected in my life. I have found myself in a season of a lot of good things. Commitments in ministry, life-giving friendships, hobbies and interests, and not enough time for all the good that they hold. Like a kid in a candy store, I want to have all the good things, all at the same time. Because my life is filled to the brim with things that I love, I want to have them all, and I want to have them now.

But the Lord has been tapping on the window of my heart, asking me to set down some of these good things. He’s been softly, gently, and persistently asking for me to surrender some of these good things. He is asking for me to lay aside some of these good things in order to accept His best in this season of my life right now. In the kindness and firmness of a loving Father, He is telling me “No.”

And my sinful heart writhes against this! I want to have it all, to do it all, and I want all these good things now. I can’t imagine why He would take these good things from me, or why He would ask for me to choose to close the door to a season of life that I love. But, by His Spirit, His word resounds in my heart: “No.”

While that word falls on my ears with all the flatness of denial, I am quickly reminded of the ways in which God has redirected my steps in the past, the ways He has led me through life, and the ways in which He has promised to always be for me and not against me. And I am swept back into the reality that when the answer is “No,” I must trust that there is a better “Yes” up ahead.

And in this hope, with faith fueling my confidence, I will be deliberate in faithfully following Him into the best things that He is calling me to. I will set my face toward His call, and I will follow Him. When my resilience waivers, I will eillfully call to mind all the ways He has been kind to me in the past: the boyfriends He said no to dating, the schools He said no to attending, the jobs He said no to accepting. And I will intentionally and painfully open my hands beneath His “No,” and open my ears to await His great “Yes.”

 

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