God is really, really great at putting things on our hearts; writing this blog post is one of those things for me. My fear in publishing anything on a blog is that I may write something that isn’t interpreted how it should be, or even worse, publishing something of my own ideas rather than something that is from The Lord. So let me begin with this:
There are so many platforms of social media where people write about Jesus – which is so amazing, but dangerous at the same time. I’ve never been to seminary and didn’t attend a Christian university. And although I have many, many friends and family members who continually shape and encourage me in my relationship with Christ, my group of friends aren’t the “Bible thumpers” and no one in my family works for the church. I’m just a girl, raised in the buckle of the Bible Belt who likes to read a lot of books, have a lot of conversations, and get lost in worship and sermons. With that being said, challenge everything you read on the internet, including my writing. Take everything you read and compare it to the Word on your own. I’ve found that to be incredibly thought-provoking as a millennial.
Phew. Now that I’ve gotten that out there, I’m exited to tell you what God has placed on my heart for some time now.
We as humans have a natural tendency to pair God telling us “no,” with the feeling of rejection, frustration, and many other negative emotions. We resent, we resist, and we question everything when this happens. This is something that I’ve struggled with and consciously worked on over the past year of my life. I know the trials I have faced, but for you it might be a multitude of things: a relationship failing, a job not working out the way you thought it would, not being as successful as you’d wished in your major at school, a serious injury, or even having to watch someone you care about go through a tough season of life. Whatever it may be, I feel like I’m at a point in my journey of dealing with God telling me no that I can shed light on a few things I’ve come to realize.
You just might be ‘encamped’ right now.
Sometimes God tells us “no” and leaves it at that. He doesn’t always tell us “no to this but yes to that.” This is my most recent learning curve. It is possible that The Lord needs you to stay put for a while. To rest. To recoup. This, I know, feels like a genuine punishment for us ‘do-ers’ and ‘go-go-go-ers’ – I promise, I can relate. I read in a book last month that the same way we know toddlers need their nap time, we as Christians need our rest, too. Toddlers kick, scream, cry, and fight with all they have in them just to avoid laying down for a couple of hours for a nap. As caregivers, we know that they need the rest. It’s the exact same thing with us. Jesus knows we need seasons of life where we are resting, although we do our best to scream and kick our way out of it as toddlers do. Jesus just might call us to a rest period in preparation for something bigger and better than anything we could ever imagine. Learn to take your nap.
Anyone studied the book of Exodus before? You know, when God leads the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt? He used Moses to lead them to the promise land, and the majority of their travel days were spent encamped. The Lord told Moses when to move and when to stay encamped so that the Egyptians weren’t to find them – in other words, for their own good. Now, I’ve never fled from slavery before, but I can imagine the Israelites’ frustrations as they waited around twiddling their thumbs when they just wanted to sprint their way to freedom.
I didn’t see it before, but I’ve come to realize it is the same with us as it was the Israelites. The same exact thing. When God says no, we might just need to be encamped right now. We might need to hit the reset button and prepare for something bigger and better.
When God says no, instead of the frustrations, try to quiet down long enough to hear God saying, “Patience, kid! I’ve got this all planned out.”
There is a bright side, you just aren’t there yet.
There is nothing (I repeat, nothing) that will ruin God’s plan and His timing more than us trying to take over. When God says no, don’t just turn and rush into something else; a quick fix is never actually the solution to a problem. When God says no, it’s hard to hear and I realize that, but I can say from experience that there is another, brighter side. There is a way out. God has got this, you just need to wait and see what it is that He has planned. He promises there will be an answer besides just “no,” – there will be that phone call, the answered prayer, the good news, the moment that brings tears to your eyes a smile to your face, and you’ll audibly say, “ohhh, that’s what you were doing there, God!” That moment at the other, brighter side is so joyful. Don’t slow down God’s process of getting you there by trying to take matters into your own hands. His plan is way better than anything you can throw together, believe me.
Sometimes you need to say “yes” before it seems safe to.
You know how I said that God is really great at putting things on our hearts? Sometimes, the easy part is hearing and understanding what He has to say or wants us to do, but the hard part is actually following with action. There are times that The Lord makes it crystal clear what He wants us to do before He makes it clear that it’s safe to do so. Sometimes, God says no to something that seems dangerous to let go of. Other times, Jesus shows us the thing in our lives that He is ready for us to put down before He shows us what we get to pick up in its place. And then there are times The Lord will tell us to do something that makes no sense to us at all. Anyone been there before? Yeah, me too. And it is hard, but…
“Sometimes, you need to say “yes” to the impossible before God sends you the needed resources” -Richard Exley.
Take Luke chapter 5 for example. Jesus hopped into Simon’s fishing boat and told him, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” This seemed silly to Simon on account of he and his friends having just worked hard all day and night without catching anything at all. It didn’t make sense, and it seemed impossible, but regardless Simon let down the nets because Jesus told him to. Do I even need to finish the story? The guy’s boat began to sink because of how many fish he caught.
Or what about the story of Noah’s ark? Hebrews 11:7, “By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family.” Noah had to build the ark first, walking (or building, I guess) by faith while completely blinded from what was to come.
What about when Jesus turned water into wine in the book of John? When his mother came to Him at a wedding at Cana in Galilee saying they had run out of wine, His response wasn’t “Oh, okay, I’ll just turn water into wine!” Instead, it was “Fill the jars with water.” And so they (Mary’s servants) did. Then He told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” And they did. They didn’t say, “But Jesus are you sure? That’s going to be really embarrassing if we bring the master of the banquet water when we say it is wine.” They acted out in faith. Before they knew it was safe. And we all know Jesus turned that water into wine.
There are so many examples of this in the Bible and in our own lives.
“God seldom intervenes on our behalf until we step out in obedient faith.” -Richard Exley.
So next time God says no when it doesn’t make sense, listen to what He is really saying and step out in faith. You’ll be so shocked at the things He can do in your life.
God’s sufficiency is greater than your situation.
That’s all there really is to it, everybody. When God says no, it is so easy to fight, complain, argue, and resent – but we have got to make a conscious, strong effort to realize that God’s sufficiency is greater than our situation; even in the greatest of situations and trials, our God is greater.
It’s a process, not an event.
Could it be that when God says no, we have reached a point in our lives where we need to transform our minds? Possibly. Could it be that when God says no that He is calling us to a new season of life and of living differently than ever before? Maybe. Although the thought of living differently than ever before makes us squirm, there is comfort in change because it is, in fact, a process and not one big event.
A journey, not a destination.
A marathon, not a sprint.
Do not confirm any longer to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — His good, pleasing, and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)
“Being transformed to the image of Christ is a process rather than an event. It requires our participation and involves both our obedience and the work of the Holy Spirit.” -Richard Exley
So if God saying “no” leads to a life transformation that seems scary, just remember that He is coming to bring you better. If Jesus saying “no” takes away things in your life you are scared to let go of, just remember He has promised you so much more.
So, next time God Says No, consider these 5 things:
- You just might need to be encamped right now.
- There is a bright side, you just aren’t there yet.
- Sometimes you need to say “yes” before it seems safe to.
- God’s sufficiency is greater than your situation.
- It’s a process, not an event.