Imagine singing the ABC song. You know how it goes: “No, no, no, no, no, no, NO! … A, B, B, C, no, no, No!” It was early morning and our granddaughter was awake, happily singing in her room. So she changed the words a bit. Can you tell that she’s almost two?
In spite of her choice of lyrics, our sweetie really isn’t that big on the “N” word. Most kids that age are just discovering the power of “NO!” and they use it liberally. If we start singing “Yes, yes, yes” to her, she’ll sing along just as cheerfully.
She does have her moments, however. “Do you want the pink shirt or the purple shirt?” “NO!” “You must be hungry—do you want a banana?” “NO!” (while eagerly making the sign for “banana” and grabbing her bib). And of course, there’s the biggie, “It’s time for your nap, Sweetie.” “NO!!!!”
We expect children her age to say no. The problem comes when we don’t outgrow that stage. Sure, we learn to be more positive and agreeable with our friends and family. But what about God? There are times when I find myself telling Him “NO!” just like our almost-two-year-old.
I’ve learned to couch my “no” in more polite, sophisticated terms, but when we strip away the elaborate justifications and excuses, it boils down to the same thing.
“God, I’m too busy. And that’s because I’m doing all this other stuff that I’m sure you want me to do.”
“God, I’m not mature/smart/talented enough. I could never do that!”
“God, we don’t have enough money to go do that.”
And on and so on.
I’m reminded of Moses at the burning bush. He’s telling God that he can’t go rescue the Israelites from Pharaoh:
Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”
The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”
But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.”
When God asks me to do something I don’t want to do, I respond the same way Moses does: “Please send someone else.” At the time I feel as though I’m being perfectly reasonable. We really are busy. I really am not very good at much of what He asks me to do. And our income often falls short of our minimal budget.
I forget that God has the authority to rearrange my schedule, and that He’s responsible for what gets accomplished each day. I may lack ability, but He is capable. And He has all the resources in the universe.
I’ve learned that God doesn’t like to take “No!” for an answer. The Holy Spirit convicts me, and I find myself repenting. Like in the case of Moses, He may send someone else, but that doesn’t mean I’m off the hook. If I don’t obey the first time, I soon find myself in a curiously similar situation.
I’m not a horse person, but I understand that when a horse is being trained to jump over rails, it’s not allowed to move on until it’s completed each step. If it comes up to the barrier and balks, the rider just circles around and approaches it all over again.
God trains us exactly the same way. If we come to a situation and refuse to obey, He just circles us around and lets us try again. Now that I’m an old mare, and no longer a spiritual toddler (to mix my metaphors), I’ve finally figured out that it’s much easier to say “yes” the first time.
Now I too wake up singing a song. Perhaps you’re familiar with it? The chorus goes, “Yes, Lord, yes, Lord, yes, yes, yes!”