As I begin to write there is a pause; I’m going ahead with what is in my heart this morning, but just a few minutes ago I asked, “Really, God?” So, here we go…
1 Kings 21:1-4 (the message)
And then, to top it off, came this: Naboth the Jezreelite owned a vineyard in Jezreel that bordered the palace of Ahab the king of Samaria. One day Ahab spoke to Naboth, saying, “Give me your vineyard so I can use it as a kitchen garden; it’s right next to my house — so convenient. In exchange I’ll give you a far better vineyard, or if you’d prefer I’ll pay you money for it.”
But Naboth told Ahab, “Not on your life! So help me God, I’d never sell the family farm to you!” Ahab went home in a black mood, sulking over Naboth the Jezreelite’s words, “I’ll never turn over my family inheritance to you.” He went to bed, stuffed his face in his pillow, and refused to eat.
When I read this just a bit ago I almost laughed out loud! I got a mental picture of this King making such a production of his pout! If you read on in this chapter you will find that Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, arranges for Naboth’s murder so her husband can claim his vineyard. Wow. Seems like Ahab and Jezebel had a little trouble hearing the word “No.”
You know where I’m going, right? Trust me, I don’t get up in the morning with the lofty idea of writing a post about how we conduct ourselves when we don’t get what we want! Thus, the “really, God?”
Consider Ahab…He is King. King! Pretty sure a king is more than provided for. Pretty sure there were other options for this “kitchen garden.” Was Ahab so concerned for his servants and the convenience of the garden to the kitchen that it upset his life so badly? Hmmm…or was Ahab in a tither because someone had the audacity to tell him No? And really, even though Naboth was murdered, I am impressed! He had no problem setting boundaries! Ahab had much trouble accepting them.
How about us? Are we able to set healthy boundaries with others? This is not about selfishness; it is about being able to say No when it is appropriate. And, even more difficult, are we able to accept a No? See, as I read about Ahab’s hissy-fit I think about how if he was king he probably lived in relative abundance. Instead of seeing all of the many gardens he already had, he became fixated on the one he didn’t have. And so the answer was No. That’s good, though. This will sound a little too ridiculous and overly-spiritual, but it’s good to hear No sometimes. Hearing No reveals quite a bit about our hearts. When we don’t get what we want or others do not comply with our wishes, do we throw a “grown-up” fit? Do we give them the full court press of guilt or anger? Do we try to manipulate people and circumstances so that we never have to accept a No?
It’s hard! No doubt about that. Our human nature likes to hear Yes! But, like with children, we know they will never learn to deal with No unless they hear it once in a while. We all know what it’s like to be around a child who never hears No. Sometimes they are not very pleasant and most times they lack a much- needed sense of gratitude. When we always get what we want, when we want, it becomes an expectation and less a blessing. In a nutshell, we become spoiled. And, in another nutshell, spoiled people become focused generally on one person: themselves.
God doesn’t want us to be focused on ourselves. He wants us to focus on Him and others. The amazing part is that as we focus on Jesus, as we choose to be grateful for all He has done for us, we more clearly see the needs in the lives of others. As we let go the fight against “No” we receive more than we ever could have otherwise. God is not depriving us! God desires to bless us in many ways but as long as we keep the vice grip around needing to have our own way, He just waits. Gratefulness comes with a realization that all we have and all we are comes from God. He is gracious and kind and gives to us despite the fact we don’t really deserve it. Thanksgiving flows from our lives when we realize just how good He is to us in spite of us!
I would like to share with you one desire that God will always answer with a Yes. If you desire to know Him, the answer is always Yes. And most incredible, knowing Him begins to shift and sift our hearts. We learn that we really don’t need to have our way all the time to be content. Contentment, soul-peace, is found in the Yes of our Father’s love. You may doubt me. You may not think you could ever be free of a bent toward avoiding the No, but you can. It’s never easy. It doesn’t always feel good. But it is life-changing. It’s freeing. Our peace and joy won’t ever come from the hands of another. We cannot extract fulfillment from other people or having everything go the way we want. We waste our lives demanding. Joy unspeakable, Peace surpassing all we understand and a life of more than we imagined or could have predicted is found flowing with the current of the River of Life. Jump in.