This past Monday, my daughter, Avonlea, turned 1 year old. ONE! It’s crazy how quickly this last year flew by. And it’s been too. much. fun!
I’ve held her.
Changed her diaper.
Given her baths.
Read to her.
Prayed with her.
Laughed with her.
Cheered her on as she learned to crawl.
Tried to keep up with her as she’s learned to walk.
Picked her up after she’s fallen and bumped her head.
Said the phrase “Say _________” hundreds of times as we are teaching her words.
Been amazed by her HUGE personality!
Cleaned up after her mischievous adventures (the picture above shows that quite well).
And I’ve fallen more and more in love with her as each day passes.
She’s my “Avie Rose.”
The last couple of weeks I’ve noticed 2 new things.
First, I’ve repeated a tiny, 2-letter word more than any other time in my life. Every parent knows which word I’m talking about.
And the funny thing is, I’ve had to say “No” in connection with other words I rarely had to before.
Toilet. Toilet paper. Outside. Leaves. Eat. Mouth. Etc.
You get the picture.
Second, Avonlea isn’t just developing mentally and physically, she’s developing her will. That precious gift given to us by God to freely use. That ability to make choices. To act and react. Yup. She’s learning that quickly. And I knew it would come, although I, like every naive first-time parent, thought it wouldn’t be as pronounced with my child. Ha!
With those 2 things in mind, get this story. It was dinner time and we had all 3 sat down at the table. Rachel and I began to eat, but Avonlea’s food was still a bit too hot. As Avonlea reached for her food, I pulled it back and said to her “Not yet, Avonlea. It’s too hot.” She got distracted by something and maybe 15 seconds later reached for it again. It was out of her reach this time and she was growing frustrated as she strained for it. I looked at her and said in a serious, slightly raised and concerned voice, “No.” She immediately started crying and then made a face that I’m pretty sure had we been filming could have won her an Oscar. It was dramatic to say the least!
I was shocked by her ridiculous reaction to that 2-letter word. Rachel and I both laughed a bit, as we watched Avonlea transform into a drama queen. And then I quickly became bothered by it all. I thought, “I know she’s only 1, but shouldn’t she be obeying me when I ask her to do something? I mean doesn’t she love me? And not only doesn’t she obey me, but she gets upset at me for just saying ‘No.’ And not just upset, but in tears. I’m not even mad at her. What’s going on?”
As I began to rationalize with my 1 year old, I was immediately confronted by how I react when God says “No” to me.
Have you ever been there?
Maybe you’ve prayed for something and the answer, by way of the prayer not going your way, seems to be “No.”
Maybe you see what everyone else is doing around you and you want to do it, but it goes against a verse in the Bible where God has said “No” to doing that very thing, and you get angry.
Maybe it “feels right” to do what you are being enticed to do, but you know God has said “No” to doing it. Maybe you give in.
Maybe you feel stuck in this season of life and there is a shortcut you could say “yes” to, but God is saying “no.”
Maybe you want to do something right now, in the moment, but God is saying “No. Later is better. Wait. Be patient”
Maybe you are tired of even considering following God, because you feel he’s all about the rules. He’s judgmental. And the answer is always “no.”
Let’s be real: maybe you’re done feeling guilty for doing what everyone else seems perfectly content doing. And if God would just get out of your conscience life would be much easier. You could watch porn, have pre-marital sex, lie, cheat, steal, etc. with no worries.
If any of these describe you, I’m with you. I’ve been there. But hold on, take a deep breath and keep reading.
In each moment we all ideally want all of our desires to be answered “yes” and for that “yes” to not be delayed. We want what we want right now. Immediate gratification is the name of the game. And daily we are marketed to in countless ways with messages that reinforce our desires: “You deserve it. Take all you want. Enjoy it. No boundaries. Don’t wait. Do it now. The answer is ‘yes.'”
The scary things is there are obvious consequences to this way of thinking and living.
The scarier thing is since God doesn’t at all operate like this, we often get upset with him, see his answers as irrelevant and irrational, and in the end, see no need for him at all.
What we are really doing is distrusting God’s character. And we are missing out on a much better life.
What if the next time God says “No” to your desire, you stopped and considered that maybe he knows something that you don’t? Maybe he knows what’s best for you and a “No” answer is exactly what you need.
When I was in seminary, one of my professor’s said this: “God’s commandments are to keep us from something bad and to save us for something better.”
That has stuck with me to this day. And I believe it always will.
When God says “No,” he is not trying to make your life miserable. He is not trying to make you miss out on what everyone else is doing. He is not punishing you. He is not trying to put fear in you. He is not mad at you. He is not trying to give you unattainable standards. He is not all about rules.
He actually cares about your life more than you or I ever will.
When I said “No” to Avonlea eating the hot food it was because at my core, I wanted what was best for her. I didn’t want her to get burnt and I wanted her to enjoy her food at the right time. It was an act of grace for me to warn her and give her boundaries.
Have you ever considered it’s the same way with God?
So, the next time God says “No” to something in your life, remind yourself of 3 things:
1. God wants what’s best for me.
2. God wants to keep me from something bad.
3. God wants to save me for something better.
Then obey his “No” and see how that works out for you. I’m betting it goes better than obeying your own “yes.”