I tried everything.
I rationalized, persuaded, begged, pleaded, prayed, and fought for it. It was right. It had to be right. I’d been wrong before, but not this time — this time I needed the win. With a guilty conscience, desperately trying to ignore the underlying feeling of true conviction, I dug my heels in and demanded that I knew what was best. I would carve my own path.
And gently, in the back of my mind, a voice in my head whispered, “How exactly has that gone for you before?”
Because that wasn’t the first time I’d tried to take control. I have been fiercely independent since babyhood, so the act of surrender is anything but instinctive for me. I am not proud of it, but I’ve fought for my own will rather than asking God of His more times than I’d care to admit.
And this time, like all others, left me flat on my back, staring up at the ceiling with tears in my eyes. Finally admitting that He had known better all along.
When God says no, there’s always a reason. But it doesn’t always make it easier to hear. Letting go of something you want is painful and it can be confusing. Having been through this a few times, difficult as it’s been, I’ve learned some really key things about the character of God.
1. God doesn’t play games
When God says no, He’s not messing with you. He doesn’t delight in your suffering. The Lord we serve is not sitting in a celestial palace, mocking your pain or toying with your heart. The world we live in is broken, deeply, and because of our own failures, we get hurt.
Generally speaking, I have found that submitting to the will of God usually means getting hurt a lot less. God doesn’t play games. If He’s calling you to something, or simply just to wait, there’s a reason.
2. God is a lot smarter than you are
When God says no, there’s purpose behind it. I was in a small group a couple of years ago where someone shared this metaphor of our lives as a book. We only see the chapters we’ve lived, and the page that we’re on, but God sees the whole book. (I actually remember thinking at the time “ew, cheesy”).
But it’s even more than that. Not only does God see the whole book, but He’s writing the whole dang library. Your story, along with everyone else’s, is fully known, seen, and crafted by a Father who loves you. This is good news.
The hard part is that we may not always understand why God says no. In the moment, it can be frustrating, heartbreaking, and confusing. I’ve had my moments of outright anger, knowing I’m supposed to walk away from something my heart so badly wants.
And yet, we know that there are reasons behind what He has for us that we may never understand in this life.
Surrendering your life to Jesus is a guarantee that it will not be wasted, even if certain parts look different than you thought they would.
You can try to fight it. Push back, dig your heels in. Sometimes it may even feel like you’ve gotten your way, but missing out on what God has for you would be an absolute tragedy.
3. God is a Redeemer
When God says no, it’s not the end of the story. If you’re reading this and thinking “holy crap, this is me” — don’t panic. Because one of the other things that you’ll learn about God through this process is that He is a redeemer.
No brokenness is too great to be used. The parts of your life that you’re not so proud of can and will be used by God if you let Him. He takes you as you are, wherever you’re at, and leads you to Grace.
And always, whenever God says no, it’s because He loves you.
To read more from Anika, visit her website.