Tuesday, October 23, 2007

When God says No

"Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matthew 7:9-11

The passage above is a bit challenging, especially when you feel like you asked for bread and got a rock. But I’m glad God used the analogy of a parent and a child, because as a parent, it’s one I can understand.

If Harmony had her way, we’d got to Steak and Shake (Snake and Snake, as she says it) every day for grilled cheese and a shake. She loves their shakes, and rarely does a day go by when she doesn’t lobby for one as we’re driving anywhere remotely close to a Steak and Shake.

But although I love Harmony, think shakes aren’t the worst thing in the world for her, and have taken her to Steak and Shake more than a couple of times for a shake, sometimes the answer is no.

No doesn’t mean I don’t love her. It doesn’t mean I don’t want good things for her. It doesn’t mean she won’t ever get a shake from Steak and Shake again.

There are lots of reasons that I say no as a parent. Sometimes what my children want just isn’t safe, like wanting to stomp in the puddles in the street last night. Sometimes it isn’t the right time—last night Henry desperately wanted to build a car garage with a set from his uncle, but it was time for bed, the car garage would have to wait until this morning. Sometimes it’s because I have something better in mind—often the “no” to Harmony’s shake request is because dinner is almost ready at home, and I know that’s a lot healthier for her than a grilled cheese, fries and shake.

But sometimes my no brings fits, tears, and “Mean Mommy!”or “Why?” from her mouth. So I hold her tight and try to explain, but usually it just takes time and a diversion….she’s just not ready to understand it.

But God does all that and one better for us—he gives us a story to help us understand it. John 11 tells us about Lazarus dying, yet Jesus stays away. When he does go to Bethany, both Mary and Martha say, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." Very factual, but I have a feeling that what was in their heart was “Why? Why didn’t you show up when we needed you?”

Jesus answers their question in a couple different ways. In verse 14 he tells the disciples that it’s playing out this way so that they may believe. In verse 40, he tells Martha that it will reveal the glory of God.

In keeping with my blog title, I don’t have all the answers, just all the questions. I don’t know how to tell when a no means it’s not safe or not now or there is something better for you. I don’t know how God will use a particular “no” to bring belief or glory to Himself. But I do know that if I keep these things in mind as I experience a “no”, I might have a fighting chance at experiencing Him more fully and being used to bring belief to others and glory to God.

Thanks, God, that you do say no to us sometimes, and that you have a bigger and better plan in mind. Help us sort through how to use the nos to bring deeper belief and glory to You.


Kim said...

Wise words. Thanks so much for sharing.

Jen said...

I have trouble deciphering God's "no" sometimes, too. I think that's probably good because my faith grows more as I learn to trust the answer, even when I don't understand why.

Snake and snake sounds pretty good today!

Simply a mommy said...

I needed to read this today, thanks for the great post!