Good parenting requires saying “No” to a child, perhaps as often as a “Yes.” It is up to the adult to say, “It is bedtime and you have to put away your tablet.” Or, “Your diet will be a balanced one. Cake is dessert, not the main course.” Or, “You have a time-out right now because what you did is not acceptable behavior.” Does the little one understand why? Of course not! The wise parents puts up with tears, resistance, questions, even anger. She gives consistent, loving guidance because she has a long term goal; raising a person who can get along, be responsible, and know that there really is something more important in life that being happy at each and every moment.
When I had teenagers I loved them and how longed to give them the things they wanted, to share happiness with them. But, there were painful moments when Dad’s will frustrated their desire and things got ugly. My love for them caused me to enforce curfew to keep them out of trouble, to tell them to get their priorities in order by getting their work done first before hanging out with friends. Feeling their displeasure, “But, Dad, all my friends are …” was hard for me, too. Today, those same people, now in mid-life and knowing success, thank me for those lessons.
God says “No!” too. His will sometimes frustrates our desire. Our will collides with His and the deeper the issue, the more it hurts.
God says no to a desire for revenge, asking forgiveness. Will I obey or insist “I can’t to do that.”?
God asks for regular worship. Will I respond by giving Him time or insist on going to the beach instead?
God says, “No murder.” Jesus refined that by saying “Don’t even speak badly of another.” Will I seek to be loving and kind or insist on using my mouth slanderously.
Serious Christians understand that their loving Father makes boundaries. He says “No” and expects our obedience. When we meet His “No,” we have to decide if we trust God to lead us to the best life or if we want to take control of our own life. I can tell you from experience that sometimes doing His will feels like dying! We are wise children of the Father if we obey Him, but there will be tears when we meet the hard edge of God’s discipline.
The Scripture teaches us that our Heavenly Father says, “No” to us because He really loves us. “So don’t feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children? My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline, but don’t be crushed by it either. It’s the child he loves that he disciplines; the child he embraces, he also corrects. God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children.
Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.” – (Hebrews 12:5-11, The Message)
Let me remind you of another important part of God’s guidance. People ask me all the time about judgment. “Will God punish me if I go ahead and do …” and they tell me about something they know really is not right. Even asking the question reveals an immature understanding of how God operates. He is not like a police officer waiting around the corner with a radar gun waiting to catch us speeding so he can write up a ticket! He is not gazing down from Heaven waiting to punish us the moment we step out of line. He is merciful, kind, and patient.
Peter tells us that He “is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” He has established, however, a world where there is a law of harvest. “Remember that you can’t ignore God and get away with it. You will always reap what you sow! Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful desires will harvest the consequences of decay and death. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.” (Galatians 6:7-8, NLT)
Ask the Lord for a vision of what is BEST, not just what is pleasant; for what will return the better harvest, not just a happy moment. Have you encountered the hard edge of God’s discipline, disciple? Cry if you must, but pray for strength to make the choice for obedience. Though you may not see it then, the time will come when you will see that He always had your best in His heart, that He is a loving Father.
The word from the Word comes from the story of King Saul, a willful man, who repeatedly ignored God’s “No” to do his own will. He tried to ‘buy God’ with sacrifices, somehow thinking that he could appease God while living self-willed. Samuel, the man of God, told him this, a principle to remember.
“What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Obedience is far better than sacrifice. Listening to him is much better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is as bad as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as bad as worshiping idols. So because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you from being king.” (1 Samuel 15:23, NLT) God does not play “Let’s Make A Deal” with us.
Have you found yourself confronted with a clear choice – to do what you want or to submit to Him? Find the richest blessings of the Lord by choosing to listen, obeying Him with joy.
Take My Life And Let It Be (Hendon)
Take my life and let it be
Consecrated Lord to Thee
Take my moments and my days
Let them flow in ceaseless praise
Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee
Take my voice and let me sing
Always only for my King
Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee
Take my will and make it Thine
It shall be no longer mine
Take my heart it is Thine own
It shall be Thy royal throne
Take my love my Lord I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store
Take myself and I will be
Ever only all for Thee
Frances Ridley Havergal
© Words: Public Domain