My middle son, Lawson, is 18 months old. (Don’t worry, we’ll stop counting by months when he turns 2…we don’t want to be those parents.) He’s bold and curious enough to get himself into trouble; and he’s cute and charming enough to wiggle his way out of it.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that he loathes one word in particular. Any guesses? I bet you nailed it! It’s the word ‘no’. He gets this little scowl on his face whenever we have to tell him no. It’s pretty cute now, but it definitely won’t be when he’s 8 or 18!
But, let’s be honest. We don’t ever grow out of disliking that word, do we? My son’s response to me exerting my authority is built into the human condition. We want what we want when we want it and ‘no’ just seems to get in the way. That never goes away. But as we grow and mature, something happens: we begin to see that what we want is not always what we need.
Spiritual maturity gives us eyes to recognize that we don’t always know what’s best for our lives and that we must submit to a higher authority — the Lordship of Jesus. And in doing so, we receive God’s divine direction as we navigate life’s terrain. This is simple to understand, but it’s not always easy to live out.
So often in our lives, we feel delayed or denied in our plans, dreams, and hopes for the future. Looking back, there have been many times that I thought I knew what my future would hold, what tomorrow would look like, and what path I would take to get there. But most of those times, I ended up encountering divine stop signs and detours that God used to lead me toward my destiny. There have been instances when I was waiting for God’s ‘yes’ only to receive His ‘no’.
Scripture tells us that “the promises of God are yes and amen” and it’s true! However, God often uses a hard ‘no’ to get you to a better ‘yes’.
The truth is being a disciple of Jesus means facing boundaries, guardrails, and, at times, hard lines. What we tend to do is view those boundaries as rigid regulations that somehow keep us from truly experiencing the fullness of life. I believe it’s actually the opposite. God’s ‘no’ is always connected to a better ‘yes’.
For the business man, a contract falling through is a ‘no’ that could be the setup for a better ‘yes’ to a future opportunity he can’t see yet. Don’t forget about the fishermen who caught nothing all night long until Jesus showed up with a better ‘yes’. For a high school or college student, a ‘no’ to an impure relationship might lead to a better ‘yes’ in a fulfilling marriage. And don’t forget about how God used the purity of a young couple to build the family that Jesus would be raised in. For the couple hoping for a baby, a ‘no’ now feels devastating, but could lead to a better ‘yes’ in how God builds and uses the family in the future. Don’t forget about the man named Abraham who was called to be the father of generations decades before he even had his first son.
If we could see over the top of whatever ‘no’ is standing tall in our lives — past the days, months, years, or decades of God’s divine (and sometimes painful) delay — into the ‘yes’ that stands even taller in our future, we would be content. But it doesn’t always seem that way, does it? Perhaps that’s why Scripture puts it this way:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. – Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)
My encouragement for you today is to trust. Trust that God’s delays are not denials. Trust that He knows what’s best for your life. After all, He sees the end from the beginning. He is the author and finisher of our faith.
Believe that it is not yet what it will be, for behind every ‘no’ God gives us a better ‘yes’!