When God Talks Backwards
“But think about this: while we were wasting our lives in sin, God revealed His powerful love to us in a tangible display — the Anointed One died for us.” Romans 5:8 (The Voice)
My kids knew what day it was when they woke to cereal in the bathroom sink, silverware in the toothpaste drawer and pajamas dangling from the coat hooks in the hallway.
I’m not sure when the crazy tradition began or exactly when it ended, but when my children were young, we created an in-house holiday that we affectionately termed Backwards Day.
On Backwards Day, we outlawed the conventional and celebrated the crazy. We infused the humdrum with goofy gala and flipped “normal” on its head. We dined under the table instead of on it. We ate dessert before dinner. And we jumped on the bed rather than napping beneath its covers.
The laughter came naturally, but our unconventional conversations did not. On Backwards Day, we practiced the art of reverse dialogue. No meant yes, and yes meant no. Slow meant fast, and wait meant go.
It took me a while to master it, but eventually I learned to turn affirmatives into stop signs and negatives into green lights. I said sure to hard work and no way to delight.
Sadly, we haven’t celebrated Backwards Day at our house for years. But when I peruse my prayer journal, I realize that God doesn't need a special holiday to practice speaking backwards. God is already the master of reverse dialogue.
I can see it in my own life through the lens of hindsight. Maybe you can spot it in your life, too — God often tucks an unexpected yes in the folds of a disappointing no.
When I was a young teacher, I applied for a position that would allow me to serve students and still meet the needs of my growing family. I interviewed and prayed, waited and hoped; but God responded with a disappointing no. Yet, tucked into that no was an unexpected yes to staying home with my children and pursuing my dream of becoming a writer.
When my marriage was flailing and my pride was swelling, I asked God to change my husband. I even gave Him suggestions and timelines. But the Lord didn’t follow my advice. Instead, wrapped into His no was a yes to humbling my heart and recognizing the amazing man God had created my husband to be.
I’ve had seasons when God said no to changing my circumstances, so He could say yes to renewing my mind, times when He whispered no to my demand for answers so He could say yes to increasing my faith.
Let’s admit it. The idea of God’s backwards talk may sound whimsical and fun, but it’s hard to embrace His no’s when we can’t yet see His yeses. It’s challenging to trust His motives when we are disappointed by His methods.
That’s why, when we feel discouraged by His ways, we must choose to shift our gaze. Instead of staring at our confusion, we must fix our eyes on the cross.
After all, the cross is like the ultimate Backwards Day!
The Apostle Paul says it like this: “But think about this: while we were wasting our lives in sin, God revealed His powerful love to us in a tangible display — the Anointed One died for us” Romans 5:8. (VOICE)
Through the cross, God said no to the punishment we deserve and yes to the love we could never earn. Jesus purchased our life through His death. He bought our peace with His torment. He restored our joy with His anguish.
God’s methods may be mysterious, but His mercy is unchanging. And when we anchor our hope to the resounding “yes” of the cross, we realize we don’t need to make sense of His processes to hold fast to His promises.
We simply need to trust the One who filters every yes and every no through His unfathomable love.
Dear Jesus, help me to trust Your mercy rather than getting discouraged by Your mystery. Open my eyes to see the unexpected yeses You’ve tucked within Your disappointing no’s. Thank You for saying YES to loving me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
John 3:16, “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (NLT)
Isaiah 55:8, “‘My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the LORD. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.’” (NLT)
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Do you sometimes seem to be searching for a “magic key” to unlock all the answers to life? But what if the key for Christians is simply asking, “Do my daily decisions reflect my love for Jesus?” Join us for free in the First 5 mobile app starting January 14 as we study Proverbs: The Beginning of All Wisdom. Click here to learn more!
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
How has God delivered an unexpected yes to you through a disappointing no? Share in the comments to encourage others.
If your heart is discouraged by God’s present no, take some time to fix your eyes on the cross, and thank Him for the unchanging yes of His love.
© 2019 by Alicia Bruxvoort. All rights reserved.
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