when God nods no
A few weeks ago, I had one of those weeks where you wonder (and by "you" I mean I), I wonder if perhaps God has lost me in this vast sea of people. I'm short. A God who just looks down from on high really could lose me among all the tops of all these heads. Can I be honest for a brief moment about this season of my life? I'm hearing a lot of no. I mean really. From God and from others. [If this is sounding whiny, give me a minute. I'm not here to whine. Well. Maybe a little bit. For just a minute. Give me a paragraph and I promise it gets better.]
I recently reached my threshold for no. In five days, I got five nos. A few small. A few larger. I watched other people (friends and strangers) get a yes, and I was genuinely excited for them. Truly. My smile was real. So was the tightness in my throat. I'm learning that contradictions very often coexist.
It's been special. I've not been super mature about it. A friend said it must feel like banging into walls. It does.
Truth be told, I've been hesitant to ask for anything. I've been a little reticent with God. As though it will hurt less not to ask. (How many ways can pride raise its stubborn head?)
And then this weekend, I'll not go so far as to call it a "yes," but I received something like a firm nod from the One who owed me nothing.
I could stop the fit-pitching. I could stop leaping up and down in the crowd. I could stop searching for an exit. He had not lost me in a sea of heads.
It never ceases to amaze me that God pours out His grace and confirms His love in those moments when we least deserve it. But perhaps that is sometimes His way--to bless us when we know we are not lovely lest we think we've done something to merit it.
I'm going to tell you one of the small things I was acting like a brat about because it helps to set the stage. I had volunteered at a Christian conference, signed up with a group of friends, and then been moved from that group to another one. [Insert seventh-grade-Cody reaction.] I would like to tell you that I'd have handled it better if not for all of the other nos that week. I cannot confirm that.
I read a quote by Charles Spurgeon on Friday morning. It caught my eye because I was unconvinced of its truth--
“Remember this, had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, Divine Love would have put you there.”
I wrote it down, filed it under I-don't-know-if-Charles-Spurgeon-quotes-are-ever-wrong-but-I'm-not-sure-about-this-one and went about my day.
Through a series of events that only God could orchestrate, He let me see that the place that He had placed me was not arbitrary, not cruel, not neglectful.
He had said no to my request because I'd not have known to ask for what He gave.
I can see it in this small example of a weekend-volunteer placement. Might it be true of the bigger things as well? Those things I would share only with a few? Those things I would share with no one? Might He be a good God even when He says, quite emphatically, No. Not that.? Might I believe it even when I can't understand?
Might He be One who nods His no?
I keep asking Him to teach me to trust Him. I keep arching my back in protest when He does.
I don't get it...why He keeps on guiding and loving and blessing when even I am tired of me.
Am I ready for a yes? Yes. I am. But I have a hunch that there are things here in these nos that I'll only learn in the struggle. Like maybe I'll learn to stop struggling.
Maybe I won't be so exhausted from the fit I'm pitching about the no that my eyes will be open to see the nod that accompanies it.
He is not a God of denial. Even when God says no, He does not withhold:
"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" (Romans 8:28-32)
Oh, yes. The One who gave His life is the One who sometimes gives His no.
The cross declares that we can trust Him even when we can't understand.
Even when He is nodding no.