Sometimes I Say No

Psalm 84:5-7 (the message)
And how blessed all those in whom you live,
    whose lives become roads you travel;
They wind through lonesome valleys, come upon brooks,
    discover cool springs and pools brimming with rain!
God-traveled, these roads curve up the mountain, and
    at last turn – Zion! God in full view!

I believe I have used this scripture on my blog before.  I came across it again this morning…I love it!  This idea of my life being a road God travels.  One He can live and move through.  This  journey with God…lonesome valleys, brooks, cool springs and mountain climbs.  Knowing as I round the last turn I will see Him in full.  Goodness.  I think this touches me because I experience more of His nearness as my life shifts from safe, God-compartment living to risky road traveling.  I find this God traveling the road of my life kind of living comes with a string of yes’s.  But I don’t always say yes to Him.  Sometimes I say no.

My heart is so full this morning.  How can I cut to the heart of it all?  Hmmm…this song.  We’ve been singing it in church lately.  It’s playing on my iPod even now.  It’s called “Jesus At the Center”  by Israel Houghton.  Tears stream down my face as I write because this is the crux…the point…the core of a God-traveled life.  See, Jesus at the center means saying yes to Him.  And yes can hurt your pride.  Yes can feel like chewing glass.  Yes can be so scary when you have been wounded and you don’t want to hurt anymore.  Yes can be terrifying if you are afraid that all of your previous “no’s” have made God angry with you.  Oh, my friends…

I’ve said no to Him so many times.  No brought more pain and anguish and regret than I could share in all my writing.  My no’s brought condemnation.  I ran further from Him, withdrew internally even while sitting in my third row seat at church, because how could He want me in the face of my no?

Last night I said no.  My husband and I exchanged a few remarks yesterday afternoon and later when he came and apologized I rebuffed him.  I should have forgiven him and moved on but I didn’t.  I was deflated.  Tired.  So, I left for my errands and came home and chose to ignore him.  Oh yes, very deep I am!  After I put my girls to bed I grabbed my book and went to bed.  No “good night.”  Nothing.  And as I sat on my bed I could feel Jesus tugging on my heart…go back in there and tell him you were wrong not to accept his apology.  You know what?  I said no.  And I knew I what I was doing.  But unlike a few years ago, my no didn’t send me into a complete tailspin today.  I sat at my kitchen table and talked to God about my no this morning.  Why I refused Him.  How I feel.  I asked His forgiveness and then sent my husband a text with the message Jesus asked me to say last night.  See, this is Jesus at the center, God traveling my life.  It’s not perfect but it’s real.  I don’t have to run from Him.  Jesus is my best friend.  God is my Creator.  Holy Spirit my helper.  I am learning, only because of Grace, how God wants to travel the road of my life.  He wants to travel my thoughts, words, attitudes, actions and motives.  Every time I say yes He fills me up.  Brings healing.  Does what only He can do in me and for me.

You can reach a place where even in your “no,” you realize deep inside it will become a “yes” because Jesus can be trusted.  Every time I say yes, even after a no, He releases His power, presence and peace into my circumstance.  It might appear extremely spiritual to pretend we always live in beautiful obedience with a dove flying in circles over our heads.  But it would be a lie.  I am so human…so vulnerable to my emotions…and I could choose to live a life where I call the shots, a life of perpetual no’s to God, but in that life I have no hope.  No hope of changing.  No hope of joy or peace or the miracle of a mended marriage.  See, I finally realized  my no’s were costing me far more than any pain or pride they were saving.  So, I am learning to say yes.  Even a belated, begrudging yes.  And my God is so good and kind and real that He waits out my no.  He smiles a tender smile and says “atta girl” when I finally say yes.  He takes my hand and once again travels the road of my life in each  moment I give Him permission.

A God-traveled life reads a lot like a Bible story.  Thank God those stories are full of imperfect people!  People who said no a lot but in time learned to say yes.  Noah’s yes built the ark and David’s searched out the perfect round stone for Goliath.  Yes was the response of Peter and Andrew when they  left a fishing net and the family business to follow a local carpenter’s Son.  Yes moved Mary to wash her Master’s feet with hot tears and dry them with her hair.  Yes refused to recant the resurrection story when the disciples endured beatings and death.  But don’t forget how Peter said No, I don’t know Him! the night Jesus was arrested.  David said no when he should have left Bathsheba alone.  And when Mary first met Jesus at the well, she said no, I don’t have a husband and Jesus confronted her sin with truth that set her free.  They said no!  They said yes!  As they lived they learned to let God travel the road of their lives…they learned to stop running and repent.  They learned, most importantly, God was for them and not against them.  A no would cost pain and trouble…but the yes would bring healing and direction and purpose.

At the center of it all is Jesus who absolutely said Yes.  Yes, I will leave my throne and be born as a baby.  I will walk dusty Mid-Eastern roads and know thirst and hunger and pain.  I will give sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf.  I will heal the leper and the broken-hearted.  Oh, Yes I will unapologetically have supper with sinners!  I will confront the self-righteous religious rulers.  Yes, I will take the time to bless little children.  Yes I will teach those that gather round me on a hillside to they can know truth and freedom.  I will feed the hungry with a few fish and loaves and show them I am the Bread of Life.  Yes, I will get up early and stay up late to be alone with the Father.  Yes, I will lay down my life for them.  Yes, Yes, Yes.  The hammer against nail of Calvary still echos His Yes.  The grief-filled Mary, blinded by tears, asking  Sir, where have you taken Him? on Easter morning and the answer of Messiah gently revealing Himself to her…Mary, it is me.  His Yes to her…to all of us.

It is the love, grace and power in His Yes that makes it safe to stay when I’ve said no.

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