Sometimes we live our lives as though we should always be hearing a “YES” from God, yet if we are taking time to pray about a need, a decision, a desire or a dream we must be willing to accept a “NO” from God.
There are plenty of healthy “NO’s” from God’s word to consider and learn from that will help you from becoming frustrated and disappointed. Here are some of the instances that stand out to me in scripture.
- In Acts 16:6-8 we read that the Holy Spirit prevented Paul and Silas from preaching the Gospel in Asia and again the “Spirit of Jesus” did not allow them to go to Bithynia. God said no to Paul and Silas because He was leading them to the right place to preach the Gospel. God has a right place for you and I and He will say no to keep us where we are at or get us to the place where He needs us the most. Years ago, I was wrestling with God about an opportunity I didn’t want to take. It was obvious to me that God would never want me go back to a traditional and political leadership structure that I was determined to separate myself from. However God said, “No, this is the right place, this is what I’m calling you to. It’s not what you think. I’m going to use you to bring health and growth.” The next 8 years were some of the most fruitful in my life and ministry.
- I think about Jesus’s response to the apostles earlier in Acts 1:6-7 when they asked Him what all inquiring Christian minds want to know, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. There are times when God says no because there are some things we just don’t need to know. Specifically God told us it is not for us to know the times or dates that God has put on His calendar. This no from God requires a greater dependency and trust that leads us to walking by faith and not by sight on a daily basis. God’s timing is discovered in His presence not in our planner. God’s fulfillment is found in the completion of the work He’s doing in you, not the dates we’re setting in our calendar.
- Lastly, I recall the moment when the mother of James and John came to Jesus with her sons and asked Jesus if her sons could sit in places of honor. One on his right and the other on her left. Jesus’ let her know that He had no right to say who will sit on my right or my left and that the Father had prepared those places for the ones he has chosen. We like short cuts to the top! Jesus said no because He knew that position and promotion only come from God the Father. The “no of God” in this instance got James and John off the ladder they were wanting to climb for a position. This strategic “no” got the brothers onto a path of servanthood where God could promote them to the leaders He wanted them to become.
When God says no He has a better place in mind. When God says no, He knows the right time. When God says no, He knows a better way so that you become the leader you want to be.