Growing up, I don’t remember my father saying No to me very often whenever I asked him for things. I think I ended up receiving most of the toys I asked for. I got my state-of-the-art Super Soaker in elementary school, my boombox in middle school, my turntable and mixer in high school, and plenty of expensive Nike and Jordan brand shoes throughout. That obviously made me happy. The few times he did say No, I’m pretty sure I just whined a bit and ended up getting whatever it was a few days after. I understand that this was my father’s expression of love for me, even if it was a bit misguided. Consequently, that pattern of fathering certainly fueled my already sinful and selfish heart. I wanted things and I wanted them immediately. If I didn’t get it, I’d be upset, bothered, unhappy, angry, confused, and rejecting.
As Christians, we know that our prayers are answered by God in three different ways: Yes, No, or Not Now. As you may have guessed, I have issues with the No and Not Now answers. They both contain ‘No’ in them so they are both No for all I know and I’m not cool with that. God, you’re supposed to answer prayers by always saying Yes! I’m not sure if that’s in the Bible, but based upon my attitude, I often want to believe it is really in there somewhere.
Even as I’m getting deep in my 20s now (wow, I’m an adult for real, huh?), I still struggle with the No’s. It’s no longer toys, but I’m still asking and wanting. God, I want this opportunity. God, I want to go this direction. God, I want this to happen. No? Why, God? I’m disappointed in You (wow, the nerve I have, right?).
In these past months, God’s been gracious to open my eyes a little. Maybe it’s wisdom that comes with age or maybe it’s just God teaching me some needed lessons. Probably both. I’ve been reflecting on the past few years. Certain No’s had me confused and disappointed. I kept saying in mind, God I trust you, but I recognize now how my heart’s attitude wasn’t exactly that. But I’m beginning to see how those No’s were so full of love and grace. He had my best interest in mind. Protecting me and guiding me. Loving me. A negative response so full of holy love that it really is a positive response. I just didn’t see it at those times. I thought I was ready for the things I wanted. I thought they were best for me. But how often I forget that my Father is good and sovereign. Never changing. I’m thankful for those No’s, because he knew better.
People say God is interested in our holiness and not our happiness. I think that is true for the most part but I’m not sure I can agree with it fully. He’s interested in our holiness because He is a holy God and we are His people. The amazing thing is that He is the greatest joy. He’d rather give us the deepest, most satisfying, eternal joy in Christ, rather than fleeting happiness we find on this Earth that leaves us empty. Yeah, He’s that good.
Interested in our holiness? Yup. Interested in our happiness? Even better. He’s interested in our joy by drawing us to Christ.