A Lesson in Yes and No

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God has our best interest in mind. When we believe this with every fiber of our being, we'll trust Him to protect our hearts -- even when His answer is "no."

Last week God “told” me no to something I really, really wanted.

Instead of leaving your curiosity spinning, I’m just going to get real and tell you what that thing was. I’m all about transparency. I wanted a piece of land. Like, to own one. This dream of owning land, growing stuff, chasing around smallish animals, smelling the mix of sage and wet dirt after the rain—this is not a new dream for me. I seem to have turned into a closet Laura Ingalls Wilder wannabe in my twenties. But last week, I thought I had figured out a way to wiggle and wrangle my dream into reality.

I asked God for wisdom on the matter. Sort of. Truth be told, my prayers sounded more like, “Wouldn’t this be cool, God?” than “Show me what’s really best, Lord.” But one night last week, as I lay alone in my bed, I sincerely asked God, Should I pursue this further? Is it time for this dream to come true? Now let me pause here and mention that if you ask God to speak, you better be darn well sure you want to hear His answer, no matter what that answer is! ‘Cause God answered all right. As I lay there in the dark, His words were clear, though not physically audible.

This is not what I have for you.

But instead of listening, I virtually stuck my fingers in my ears and sang out la-la-la-la-I-can’t-hear-You-God! I explained the voice away. Couldn’t it have been my own self-talk? I better get some sleep, I told myself. The bottom line is that I didn’t want my dream to be put on hold yet again. Like the prophet Jonah, I wanted to run as fast as I could away from my Ninevah, pretending God hadn’t spoken.

Jonah. Maybe you’ve heard his story? God clearly told him to go to Ninevah to call the Ninevites to repentance, but Jonah hopped on a boat headed in the opposite direction instead. Only after God sent a storm and a giant fish after the prophet did he finally obey. (You can read the whole story in Jonah 1–4.)

I was running like Jonah, so God sent a storm after me too.

The next day, God made it physically impossible for me to step outside His will by sending, not one, not two, but three financial hits that completely upended my hope of buying a little homestead. (No giant fish showed up, thankfully.)

I wanted to pout. Oh, who am I kidding? I totally pouted! I cried. I mourned the loss of this particular dream for about the “dozenth” time since I got this primal itch to be a pseudo-farmer. But I surrendered, God comforted, and I’m at peace once again.

The whole thing, though, made me think of you. You see, my tendency to want to listen to my own voice instead of God’s didn’t start with this land thing. Oh, no-no-no. It started with relationships. It started with my tendency to crush on guys.

But God, He’s So . . .

Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?

  • There’s this guy who seems perfect for you, but your paths rarely cross. So you go out of your way to make him notice you, flirt with him, or manipulate situations to get him to notice and then hopefully like you back.
  • A guy has shown interest in you, or maybe you’re even dating, but something in your heart just doesn’t feel right. Everything about him looks good “on paper,” so you stuff your doubts down deep, hoping they’ll just go away.
  • You’re head over heels for a guy that you already know you shouldn’t be into. Even though he has some great qualities (like being totally cute, or mysterious, or funny, or fill-in-the-blank), you see warning signs like anger, addiction, obsession, or lack of faith. But you ignore your conscience and have (or hope for) a relationship with him anyway.

We girls have such a knack for ignoring God’s leading when it comes to matters of the heart. I was a master at this, people. And as a result, God had to tear my dreams from my hands over and over before they could ruin me. And that stinks . . . and hurts . . . and isn’t entirely necessary if we’d just learn to listen to His voice the first time! Right?

God has our best interest in mind. When you and I believe that in every corner of our hearts, we’ll trust Him to protect our hearts. Even if that means saying no to a relationship we really want.

One Way or Another

One final thought: The biggest lessons God wants to teach us have a way of following us well into adulthood. If we are stubborn and resist God in the classes of life when we’re young, He doesn’t just give us a C- and pass us anyway. He cares about us too much to do that! If we fail “Surrender 101,” He enrolls us in the class again . . . and again.  And, as I found out last week, yet again, until we trust His no’s as much as we celebrate His yes’s.

Take it from me, girls, we do ourselves a favor when we stop crushin’ like a stubborn Jonah and truly  surrender our love life to the creator of love and romance. After all, He only says no when it’s best for us, and He always says yes when it’s best for us.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12, NLT).

(PS: If land is ever God’s “yes” for me, I’m going to plant a big ol’ “tree of life” right in the center to celebrate!)

Have you ever wanted something really bad, had a hunch God was saying no, but pretended not to hear Him? What was the result?

Written by Jessie Minassian

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