He freezes in the kitchen with one hand hanging mid-air.
He was headed into “The Forbidden Territory”—AKA the laundry room—just as fast as he could crawl when he heard me say, “No.”
And this tiny baby boy engaged in the great human struggle right there in the middle of my kitchen floor.
Do I do what I want to do? Even if I know it’s wrong? Even if mom says, ‘no?’
Or do I obey and turn to enjoy something else, something approved and acceptable?
He tilts his head up so he can see me, still sticking his hand right out into the air, paralyzed as he decides where to slap that hand down on the linoleum floor. Place the hand here to move forward to the “No Zone of the laundry room.” Place the hand there to turn and obey.
His muscles actually twitch under the strain of the decision. He grunts and growls. He looks at me with the brightest blue eyes all filled to the brim with tears.
Because he wants what he wants.
And yet, still crying, still upset, still disappointed, slowly he lowers that hand down and shifts his body.
He crawls full speed ahead to my legs and throws himself at me.
Sometimes obedience is hard. So I reward him with cheers and kisses on his cheeks and an elaborate hug.
He’s not even old enough for me to lay it all out for him all psychological and explanatory. How sometimes Mom says ‘no’ because she loves you and she doesn’t want you to end up in the laundry room with a mouthful of cat poop because you found the litter box.
How sometimes the things we think we want the very most are the very worst for us.
So, it’s my Mom-job to tell him “no,” not to be mean or arbitrary, but for protection and because I have something better in mind than cat litter (promise!).
Does God give whisper this to us also?
Dearest One, I love you. I know that your heart is hurting because I’ve said, “no,” but please trust me and trust my heart for you. I’m not out to harm you or withhold blessings or good things from you. I’m here to protect you. Wait for the moment when I say, “Yes” and it’s perfect. It’s worth waiting for. Love, Abba
The Psalmist said it:
For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.
Psalm 84:11 ESV
He is our light. He is our protection. And He doesn’t withhold good things for us.
But we have to let Him define what is ‘good.’
Paul pursued what seemed like a noble Gospel-sharing goal—to preach in Asia–and yet, the Holy Spirit stopped him with a clear, ‘no.’
Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. 7 When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. (Acts 16:6-7 NIV).
It’s a ‘no’ that doesn’t seem to make a bit of sense. Surely Paul’s itinerary seemed ‘good.’
Yet, even when it seems hopeless and crazy, utterly insane, or like all the doors are closed and everything is over and you should just give up already and go home, if God tells you ‘no’ and asks you to wait….then wait. If He asks you to turn, then turn.
Linda Evans Shepherd in The Stress Cure writes:
Living in God’s will means always saying yes to God (p. 138).
You want me to stop? Yes, Lord.
You want me to wait? Yes, Lord.
You want me to change direction? Yes, Lord.
That’s what He did for Paul. He redirected Paul’s steps to Macedonia and to a Gospel mission to Europe:
During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them (Acts 16:9-10).
Maybe I would have pushed and shoved right out of God’s presence and His will and right on into Asia.
Yet, Paul turned. He accepted the ‘no’ and said ‘yes’ to God’s mission and agenda instead of his own seemingly noble one.
Do I want what I want? Even if I know it’s wrong? Even if God says no?
Or do I want to be where God is, satisfied and content in His presence and trusting in His love?
May we always choose the “yes” of His presence.
To read more about this 12-month journey of pursuing the presence of Christ, you can follow the links below! Won’t you join me this month as I ‘Learn When to Say, ‘Yes?’
- Finding Room to Breathe: A 12-month pursuit of the presence of Christ
- January: Be Still and Know
- February: Pray Simply
- March: Unplug
- April: Enjoy Beauty
- May: Create Beauty
- June: Invest in Friendship
- July: Retreat and Refresh
- August: Learn to Say, “No”
- September: Learn When to Say, “Yes”
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2014 Heather King