And Sometimes God Says “No”

It started with a good quiet time and a handful of ideas I thought could change Cayman.

All right, that’s a bit of an exaggeration but that’s how I was feeling. Glowing like Moses post-Sinai, I rejoined the Israelites to watch each idea get shot down by reality, the final straw being a unique ministry opportunity that, fortunately or unfortunately, didn’t come to fruition. I was crushed. And not just for the rest of the day. I was miserable for the rest of the week. I felt like I was in the five stages of grief and hadn’t arrived at acceptance yet. I was angry, blaming and resenting everyone around me, envious of the satisfaction everyone else seemed to have, wondering how God could be so cruel. I threw my tablets on the ground and resolved not to dream again. But somewhere in the fury it occurred to me this was the first time in a long time God called me to wait. And once I thought about it I could see why.

How we wait speaks volumes to what we believe about God. If we’re filled with trust, we’re more likely to press into his presence and listen for his leading. If you’re anything like me you kick, scream, and try to find a loophole. As much as I like to believe God smiles on my tenacity, if I’m honest, most of my franticness is actually lack of faith in the sovereignty of God disguised as holy ambition. In all my efforts to make things happen I tend to overlook that it’s the Holy Spirit that changes people’s lives, not my brilliant programming. I don’t have to run every ministry. In fact, it’s better I don’t. Being told to wait exposed the idol in my heart, the reality that I believe I am God. And if God granted me everything my heart desired he’d only be encouraging my delusion while robbing himself of glory. I’d crumble beneath the pressure, leaving a trail of half-built ministries and hardly discipled believers in my wake.

The other day I met with a student who’s been outside our InterVarsity chapter. All last semester I invited them to things and all last semester they avoided me like I was the repo man. Yet lately there seems to be an openness to Jesus. I asked them what happened and they told me they talked with a family member and realized they wanted change. It had absolutely nothing to do with me! I was almost insulted God had been working behind-the-scenes (how dare he! He only sent his Son to die for them). I’m finding more and more ministry works best when I’m cooperating with God’s timing, following his leading and not rushing into things praying he blesses them.

Cayman has grown me in a lot of ways but if there’s one area I’ve gotten worse it’s this. When I first came on staff God gave me an image of a little boy and his father working on a car in a garage. The boy had a plastic wrench. The father held the real one. This is what campus is like. God does the heavy lifting and I’m the boy with a plastic wrench just happy to be in the garage with my Father, honored that he’d even let me share in his work. I’d do well to remember.

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One thought on “And Sometimes God Says “No”

  1. Thank you for posting this. I am finding myself in a similar place. The amazing thing is when you ask the Lord to weed out the areas of your life that don’t fit, He does. Like, who am I that He should even bother? I hope He takes you dancing. 🙂

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