One of the lessons I've learned is there will be times in our lives when God says, "No". Period. Just, "No". Unfortunately, some of us tend to have a negative response to "No", at least once in while.
Here's what I've learned about some of the reasons God says no. (BTW, having learned doesn't mean I don't need reminders.)
* We're not ready: Maybe we've finished the degree. Perhaps we're in between pregnancies in family planning for four kids. Possibly a relationship has ended. All those sound like reasonable reasons for moving forward or in a different direction. Or it, whatever it may be, seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. But that's from our very limited perspective, not God's.
Need an example? Let me borrow one from my daughter, Mary.
On her career and calling journey, before being a parent and homeowner, Mary had an opportunity to attend a major university in our region. The timing seemed good. It seemed like a fantastic offer and just because it came with a teacher's assistant tag, it didn't seem wise to pass it up.
I'm willing to accept a double hit for this one: more education always seems like a good idea to me, and teacher mom still thought anyone could teach if they wanted to. Wrong on both counts!
Mary and her husband crossed state lines and she started down a new path. Having always been an excellent student, master's level coursework wasn't an overwhelming challenge. Teaching assistant? That was another story.
Mary was wise enough to realize that a great offer isn't necessarily a yes from God. Having content knowledge and skills, and being good at building relationships sometimes aren't enough to be a teacher. (Something this teacher mom needed to learn, also.)
Interestingly, now Mary is teaching in several different venues. The big differences? It's in God's timing and it's in areas she's passionate about.
Not now doesn't necessarily mean not ever.
They're not ready. Just because we may be ready and ever seeking God's will, doesn't mean all the stakeholders involved in a change for us are ready. We've checked and double checked the job application. Our references are impeccable. Family and friends are cheering us on. The suit's pressed and ready for the interview . . . and nothing.
What's that about? It's happened to me. How about you?
With the urging and help of my administrators, I completed a master's program in educational leadership. Passed the high-stakes certification process. I was ready to run with the big dogs, and maybe I was. But others were not. So I "sat" on my credentials for a year.
Because of where my kids were in life, new wife, high school senior, new middle schooler, they weren't ready for mom and dad to make a big change. I know my mom couldn't have let me go across the state, and I probably couldn't have left her.
But marriage begins to become familiar. Seniors graduate. Middle school loses some of its terror. Parents die. Then it seemed like the time to move in a different direction. And we did.
What I didn't know initially was the district and community weren't quite ready to accept me and what I had to offer until that year, 2001. Together we weathered 9-11 and several heart-wrenching deaths in the small, close-knit community. We learned about coming together and letting go.
And I learned to seek and be sensitive to those around me.
"It" isn't ready. What's the project or the dream you've been working on? The perfect job? The perfect marriage? Or home? Maybe it's something bigger, like a ministry. In reflective moments, what are you longing for?
"Mama said I had always been a writer. I think she was right, but I don't think she meant A+ on college papers. That's where I was for a long time. No matter how hard the course or professor were, I reveled in the writing. But that wasn't where God wanted me to stay. Maybe He was polishing the gift He'd given me a bit.
When Annalyn was two, I spent spring break cataloging books for my elementary classroom. "Huh, I could write something as good as some of those!" And so I began to write stories for my very young, and non-judgmental audience.
Annalyn loved the stories and I began to learn about writing in the 21st century. Would you look at that? My old friend, Roget's Thesaurus, is online! And just look what you can do with graphics! Wowzers! Writing was more fun than ever before.
But "it" still wasn't ready. God had to sharpen my skills and start to teach me new ones. And He had to break my heart.
Poverty, abuse, neglect, rape. Tears are worthless unless they wash out a place for God to work in our lives. What could I do?
There "it" was! God had a plan and He'd been getting me and it ready all along! I make no claims of being a successful writer. Widespread, effective children's outreach seems a seedling. But I can back away for a moment and see His hand has been at work all the time . . . and to be confident that it will continue to be at work in and for me.
God's teaching me not to rush. He's working all things out for our good whether we can see it or not. (Romans 8:28, Hebrews 11:1)
What works for me is to seek and listen and know God's timetable is always perfect. What works for me is embrace the Master Designer while waiting for me, thee and it to be ready to burst into praise for the One who loves us all.
I'm linking this post to Giving Up on Perfect and Coffee for Your Heart.