What if we pictured it more like our response to God, when in a long series of yesses, He imposes a no?
There are times that we get up and run, and we don't have a smile on our face. We run through frowns; we run through tears. We run through pain; we run through fears. We want to chase God down and beg Him to reverse it, and while we are doing it, what we really want is to chase the answer that we wanted instead. Some of us even run away from God for a time; we don't want to play His game anymore. Hopefully, we find our way back and return to His loving arms.
Except for the fact that chasing after God is always better than the alternative, it is also important to consider why we are chasing Him.
Anyone need a spiritual Band-aid right now, as I do? James always brings it home again.
But do you hear what He is saying with those verses? I know little "he" James penned the words, but he was under the inspiration of the big "He" the Holy Spirit. He is saying: God is still love, even in the No's.
Let that piece sink in.
God is not playing games with us. He does not play peek-a-boo with His mercy (now you see it; now you don't) no matter what it feels like. He is answering our prayers at every moment with His very best yes, even when they come disguised as a No.
God only tells us No when He knows that's the path to His very best. It's our reaction to His No when we forget this fact that make our journeys feel a lot more like punishment. Even when God disciplines us, though, He is still saying, "I love you this much. I can't let who you want to be for an instant ruin who I have made you to be for eternity. Return to my love, and don't trust your heart.
"Trust what my Spirit will say to your spirit when you get still and know I am God."
" It's going to be alright, if you will turn and be saved, despite the pain."
I know it's a painful process whenever we realize that we're in the wrong, and we need to change. Can I tell you, though, the pain is temporary, and the rewards are eternal and eternally worth it!!
If you feel God is leading you down a path of correction, do not turn away. Hear the love in His voice as He turns you around....
But I can already hear a sweet one's small voice saying, "What if I have accepted His No from day one? What if I have not sinned? What if I am just hurting, because I can't see the grace in His response, though I am committed to trusting and serving Him still?"
I hear your jagged heartbeat, my friend. I know it feels like your heart has swallowed broken glass, and you wonder if that means God doesn't love you as much as someone else/as much as He used to or maybe doesn't love you at all anymore."
I know you know it's irrational to feel that way, do not want to feel that way, are committed to pressing through, no matter what comes your way. I also know you need an encouragement for the times when nothing sinful has brought brokenness to your heart, and you have been combing this blog for your story like your other devotionals. I am trusting these truths will be yours in due season, just as God once wrote them on my heart, so I could be healed and could encourage you today (2 Cor. 1:3-5) I even know you'll look those verses up without having them printed for you below--because you are determined to get through this disappointment the right way, and God is working it all out for you.
This is what He gave me the last time I was in the spot you're now in.
I still keep these words on my bedroom wall to remind me that God's love is that strong.
Do you know who wrote them? Jeremiah, the weeping prophet.
Jeremiah did not willfully sin and served God faithfully, but he was serving God at a time in ancient Israel's history where few wanted to live as faithfully as he did. He went through a lot. Most of it was unfair treatment at the hands of those who should have embraced his messages from The Lord. At one point, he writes a long message to the King of Israel, per God's request. The King hates it, and rips it up!!!! As a writer, I can tell you that would throw my Holy Ghost out of whack. It's one thing when the critics tear up my words, but to know someone tore up what I wrote them from The Lord. Jeremiah is more sanctified than me, because he got over it and even rewrote it when God asked him to rewrote it again. What broke down Jeremiah temporarily, besides his community's refusal to repent and knowing God's punishment was coming upon his nation, was the day he found himself actually thrown into a deep well by his critics. The well wasn't full of water, but the message was as clear as day that they were leaving him for dead. Jeremiah was literally in the pits. But God didn't forget about Jeremiah. He saw that happen, and He sent deliverance through a man that no one thought was a man anymore. At the right time, when he could slip away unnoticed, an eunuch found an opportune time to find Jeremiah and brought the only materials available to use as ropes. I'll let you do your own Bible study on that part, but just know it is the same reference as the filthy rags God describes as our righteousness. You have to really trust God to write te verse Jeremiah wrote after having an experience like that after you temporarily thought God might have forgotten you when the mob came to throw you in a well.
I am glad most of us will not have to live that exact experience to absorb the vitamin-like truths God wants to us to strengthen our faith and our hearts.
In the end, no matter which side of the No reactions we are on, God is after the same result. In the midst of making us saints, He is also making us eagles and hinds (deer) to get us there.
Is God trusting you with a No? In the middle of a 1,001 yesses, are you dumbstruck by the negative answer you've received? Keep flying north, my friend. It is so worth it, and you'll never walk or fly alone, when you choose to walk it out with the Lord and believe that only Someone who knows you best and loved You more than anyone loves you enough to lead you faithfully to His best yes. He is enlarging your heart to receive things you could never grasp at this time; so incredible, they will be. He is loving you every step of the way; yes, my friend, He is :)