I’m teaching a Sunday School series on a fantastic book called Discerning the Voice of God by Priscilla Shirer. It’s absolutely wonderful–go buy it today, it will change your life.
God has spoken to me in many different ways over the years, but this week he spoke very loudly. Lately it seems like a lot of my prayers aren’t being answered the way I want them to. In fact, I feel like I get a bunch of big fat “no’s” and I really hate that. So God and I have been duking it out, and I have stubbornly continued to pray the same prayers over and over, just in case maybe he’ll change his mind. It’s one of those, “God, pretty please, with sugar on top, can we do things my way?” prayers.
And then this week he hit me in the head with a 2-by-4. Sometimes I need that. Through two different situations I heard him tell me, “I know you really want Plan A, but don’t you trust that I have a better plan for you? Won’t you give me a chance to show you what it is?”
And then I opened my Bible and read this… it’s God speaking to Samuel after the Israelites demanded that they wanted to be like all of the other countries and have a “real” king, and not a judge. God tries to dissuade them, but they won’t listen, and demand a king.
But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so
he prayed to the Lord. And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are
saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as
their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until
this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now
listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will
reign over them will do.”
And then Samuel tells all those Israelite folks that a king will require their sons to be soldiers, put their daughters to work, make them pay taxes, take their best flocks and make them slaves… but the Israelites don’t care, because they want what THEY want… a king.
But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a
king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us
and to go out before us and fight our battles.” When Samuel heard all that the
people said, he repeated it before the Lord. The Lord answered, “Listen to them
and give them a king.” (1 Samuel 8:6-9, 19-22)
God told the Israelites “no,” but they wouldn’t accept it. So finally, they got what they wanted… even though it wasn’t God’s optimal plan for them. In fact, Saul was a disaster.
The Lord has told me ‘no’ many times, and usually I whine and belly-ache and throw pity parties. Then, when he blesses me with something better than what I had hoped for, I feel guilty for being such a whiney thing in the process.
During my first job after college, I begged God to bring me a new, better job, working for a bigger company (and more money… because I could barely afford my rent!). I interviewed for a great job, but he said ‘no.’ And three months later, I was offered the job I have now, which I absolutely love. His way was better.
When I was at my old rent house, one of my roommates decided to move out. I begged God to bring me a roommate so I wouldn’t have to move. Moving seemed like the absolute WORST case scenario. But God didn’t bring me a roommate. Because I was forced to move, it sparked the idea of buying a house, and seven months later (after living with mom and dad and saving all of my money) I had built myself a brand-new house! His way was better.
Or, a few years ago, I prayed that God would help me find a new church, because I really didn’t want to stay at my old one. And God said, “No, you’re not leaving… in fact, I have a new ministry for you!” That was almost three years ago, right before I started teaching my Sunday School class, which I love. His way is always better.
I love that God calls us to be persistent, but sometimes, his way is just better. The answer is sometimes “no.” It’s nice to be reminded of that sometimes. I know that his “no” is probably the best thing that could happen to me. And I need to listen.
“My thoughts are completely different from yours,” says the Lord. “And my
ways are far beyond anything you can imagine.”(Isaiah 55:8)