Most of you know that I am a math teacher. I originally wanted to pursue preaching though. My degree is in religious studies.
So, how did I go from preacher to math teacher? The simple answer is God said no. Despite my belief that I was pursuing the ultimate job in God’s kingdom, he told me that wasn’t his plan for me.
At first, this made no sense to me. Why would God want me to do something “less” than preaching his word? God may say no for many reasons.
note: I do not believe being a teacher is a lesser job. I only mean to share my struggle at the time about my desires vs. God’s design.
Why Does God Say No?
When God tells us no, it can seem like a hard blow. We have these great plans and we just know that God will fully support us.
Let’s use King David as an example. In 2 Samuel 7, we see David, full of faith and honor to God, ready to build a temple in his Lord’s honor. He looks around and sees all the great things God has done for him and realizes that God doesn’t have a great house like him.
David really wanted to show honor and reverence to the Lord who had put him in a place of such honor. He realizes that it was God that put him in power and gave him such splendor. He wants to show God that same splendor with a great temple.
At first his counselor Nathan honors his desire, telling him to move forward with the idea because God has blessed all that David had done. As Nathan leaves David’s presence though, God admonishes him:
4- 6: And it came to pass that night, that the word of the Lord came unto Nathan, saying, Go and tell my servant David, Thus saith the Lord, Shalt thou build me an house for me to dwell in? Whereas I have not dwelt in any house since the time that I brought up the children of Israel out of Egypt, even to this day, but have walked in a tent and in a tabernacle.
God makes it clear right away that he doesn’t want David to build him a house. He’s never felt the need for an earthly house, and he still has no desire for one.
7: In all the places wherein I have walked with all the children of Israel spake I a word with any of the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to feed my people Israel, saying, Why build ye not me an house of cedar?
God goes on to make it clear that it is God that gives honor and glory, not the other way around.
8-11: Now therefore so shalt thou say unto my servant David, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I took thee from the sheepcote, from following the sheep, to be ruler over my people, over Israel: And I was with thee whithersoever thou wentest, and have cut off all thine enemies out of thy sight, and have made thee a great name, like unto the name of the great men that are in the earth. Moreover I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as beforetime, And as since the time that I commanded judges to be over my people Israel, and have caused thee to rest from all thine enemies. Also the Lord telleth thee that he will make thee an house.
It wasn’t that God was upset about David’s desire to honor him. It was about God showing that he was the one in control. It wasn’t David’s role to bring “riches” to God. In fact, God goes on to say that someone else would build his house.
12-13: And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom forever.
David’s desire seemed like a good one. Even Nathan agreed that it seemed like a great way to honor God. If God had allowed David to move forward though, David could forget that everything he had came from God instead of the other way around.
God says no for many reasons.
· He may want to remove pride from our hearts.
· He may want to draw us closer to him.
· He might use it to teach us patience.
· We might need a lesson in self-denial.
· He might be preparing us for something else.
· He may, just hear me out, know more about what’s better for us and his kingdom.
No matter the reason, when God says no, it’s our job to listen. We can only grow if we trust God to know what’s right for our lives.
Listening to God’s No
When God said no to my desire for preaching, I didn’t understand it. When he called me to teach, I didn’t understand how this fit into my role in his kingdom. It does fit though.
As a teacher, I have an opportunity to share my faith with those around me. It’s not in the same way that I originally planned, but God’s plan is more beautiful than mine was. It’s almost like he knew exactly what he needed from me.
Romans 8:28- And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Remember, God even told his son no. In Luke 22:42, Jesus asked his father to remove his upcoming burden. God said no though, and Jesus listened.
Jesus knew that his father’s plan was important. He knew the burden was necessary. He obeyed.
God’s plan for your life is better than any you can come up with. He knows who you are and who you can be. He knows where you fit in with the overall plan.
It’s okay to grieve about God’s no. He knows we don’t understand his plan. He can take our feelings of defeat and frustration.
Once we grieve though, it’s time to dust ourselves off and say what’s next. If we will dedicate ourselves to God’s purpose, we can find great joy in the places he leads.
We must let God be in control though.
Hint: he’s in control no matter how hard you work against his will for you.
The more we fight against his no and his will for our lives, the harder our lives become. If we will accept that God’s in control and knows more than us, we can create the lives we were meant to live with less friction.
This doesn’t mean things will be easy. It means we’ll be within God’s will and knowing he’s there with us through each step.
Deuteronomy 31:6- Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, he is the one who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.
Do you have a story of when God told you no? I’d love to hear about it. Let me know in the comments.