Saturday, February 17, 2007

When God Says "No"

No one likes to be told, “No.” In fact, we often feel entitled to an explanation or apology when things don’t go our way.

When I worked for a renowned weight-loss company, which I shall refer to as “Plate Watchers,” one piece of advice I offered members was, “Realize that when you say ‘no’ to one thing, you’re saying ‘yes’ to another. Therefore, you might say ‘no’ to dessert in order to say ‘yes’ to a smaller dress size.” Often that suggestion motivated members, but had I stood in front of my group and said, “You wanna lose weight? Just tell yourself ‘No:’ ‘No, I’m not going to have this entire box of Girl Scout Cookies. No, I’m not going to mega-size my fries. No, I’m not going to have a piece of birthday cake. No, no, no,’” I don’t think I would have lasted long in that position!

As much as we don’t like it, “no,” is good for us sometimes.

Once I yearned for a specific house in a great neighborhood. I could just see my children playing in the yard with friends. But I prayed for God to shut the door on the opportunity if it wasn’t best for us. We didn’t get it, and to say I was disappointed is an understatement. A few months later, a man who lived directly across from that house was arrested for molesting children, luring them in by fixing their bicycles, etc. You can bet my vision of my children playing on that street became a shuddering thought, and I thanked God we didn’t move there.

For the last two weeks I’ve ridden an emotional roller coasting waiting for a door to open or close. One outcome would’ve drastically changed my family’s lives, so it occupied most of my waking thoughts and prayers. As it happened, the door swung shut with a thud, and without much explanation. That hurt.

For about an hour, I was really upset. But even in the midst of the turmoil, because I have already offered God my whole life and know that every step is taken under his providential eye, I felt at peace. After the emotional release, my disappointed feelings began catching up to my faith.

I may never know why that door was shut, but I did receive comfort in Psalm 25:12-13, “Where is the man who fears the Lord? God will teach him how to choose the best. He shall live within God’s circle of blessing, and his children shall inherit the earth.” I did not have the opportunity to choose in this situation, but I trust that God chose the best for me. I will not worry about my future, or my children’s futures.

A key verse in my life is Isaiah 30:21: “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, you will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” There is no golden opportunity in this life that can compare with walking in The Way. And that’s why I’m thanking God for saying “no” this week.
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