When God says “No”

bubble

It’s hard when you’re a child and you’re told, “No.” You pout or maybe even throw a fit to get your way.

But what about when God says, “No” and no temper tantrum will change His mind? It can be downright devastating.  Especially when it involves an old dream you’ve been carrying in your heart for so long.

It’s like this dream of yours is so vivid and living in front of you in its own world; no one else can see it but you see it clearly. It’s like looking in at a snow globe and watching this tiny world moving and breathing before you.  It’s so real you know you can just reach out and touch it.

But when you do, you realize this dream isn’t inside a snow globe but a bubble. And as soon as you touch it, it pops.  It’s gone.  This vibrant world, the image of YOU inside this dream living and doing all those things you’ve wanted to do for so long, is gone.

So you learn the painful lesson that dreams are delicate, especially those closest to your heart.

And this one was so close to becoming reality that when you finally reached out with trembling hands…you destroyed it. Now all you have left is the memory of what you did wrong, how you reached out too quickly or too rough, and tears; lots and lots of tears that fall so freely, so violently.  You can’t hold them back and really you don’t want to.  They’re too painful to hold in and the moment so heart wrenching it scares you because you realize something:  You’re angry.

You’re angry at yourself for getting your hopes up. You’re angry for daydreaming about something that perhaps wasn’t even meant to be.  And then this anger creeps in deeper, burrowing into your heart and burning everything it touches, leaving black holes in your spirit, and you find yourself staring at the face of God in your anger.

This moment scares you the most. You don’t want to be mad at God, and you tell Him that.  But the anger lingers and you don’t know what to do with it. It’s too heavy, wearing you down, pulling you down, and you want to let go of it.  But something tickles your ear and reminds you of your pain and your mourning over something you never even had.

So your dream is gone, but all the daydreaming and possibilities remain to torture you. You try to look away, but you keep looking back.  You over analyze all you did, what you could have done better, what you shouldn’t have done at all.  There is even an inward crumbling and you wonder if you’ll ever recover.

It’s in that moment of internal collapse you realize how important this dream is to you. Maybe too important.  You start to ask yourself if you were putting it above God.  Your heart hurts all over again because you’re not sure if you can honestly answer “no” to that question.

But God answered, “No” to your dream. Or perhaps He whispered, “Not yet.”

You don’t know which one but you realize something even more crushing than not getting your way: You’re not the only one hurting in this.  You hurt God.

Were you looking at that snow globe of a dream and seeing His reflection as He stood over your shoulder? Or were you so focused in on seeing yourself inside that you forgot Him?

He was watching that dream even more closely than you. He’s the One who crafted every part of it to perfection because He loves you, not because He wants you to run away from Him to chase that world.  And when you eventually go into that world, in His timing and with His blessing, He wants you to take Him with you.

So where do you go from here?

Tell God you’re sorry you hurt Him, and ask Him to forgive you. And don’t be angry with Him.  He was simply protecting your relationship with Him.  No dream can ever compare to all you have with Him.

Ask Him to help you with those black spots in your spirit. Never hold on to anger or it will burn clear through you.

Ask God to help you see this dream clearly for what it is: A gift from Him to shine as the child He created you to be and to bring Him honor and glory.  (It only turned black and ugly and blew up in your face when it became an idol to you.)

And don’t ever gaze into that world again and forget to look for His reflection. If you do, you may find out it’s no world worth having at all but merely a bubble on the verge of popping.

“You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods.”  (Exodus 20:4- 5a NLT.)

A Shabby Little Pedestal

pedestal

Has someone carelessly wounded your heart?  Maybe you spend time every day wondering what went wrong, what you could have done differently, or how you can fix it now.

Maybe you’re not supposed to fix it.  Maybe, just maybe, God wants you to move on because He’s protecting you or because He has a better life for you up ahead without that person.

But let me ask you this:  Did you put this “someone” on a pedestal, idolizing him/her?

God doesn’t want you to have an idol in your life, my friend.  And anything you put above God is an idol. Anything.

That’s right.  Money, success, and possessions can all be idols.  I think most of us get that.  We understand we shouldn’t make those things a top priority in our lives.  But what about another person? Gulp.

The moment you start looking to another person for answers, comfort, and overall guidance first instead of God, you’ve got a problem.  This includes your spouse, your children, your parents, and your BFF from way back when.

You see, God is jealous for you; not in a crazy way, but in a loving and serious way because He wants what’s best for you.  He knows He can love you more deeply and protect you better than anyone else ever will.  He knows your heart.  He knows you.  (In fact, He sees you right now as you’re reading this.  He’s pretty amazing like that.)

And God knows He can fulfill you, comfort you, ease your pain, bring you joy and lots of laughter, hold you when you crumble, lift you when you slip, whisper when you’re alone, take your hand and lead you the right way, sing alongside of you, and bring you smiles from the inside out.  And His love isn’t something that is here one day and gone the next.  It really is forever.

All He wants is for you to love Him back.  First.  He’ll give you enough love to share with those around you and you’ll learn from Him how to love them even more.

But until God is first in your life, things can be pretty painful.  I know.  I’ve been there.

For a long time, I went to everyone BUT God.  I didn’t think I could hear from God, not really.  And I thought the things that mattered to me wouldn’t be that important to God, so I tucked Him away in a corner in my life. Maybe later, I reasoned, I’ll go to Him.

But from the corner I tried to keep Him in, God started to peel away people from my life. At first I felt hurt and abandoned.  Then I realized God was the One who was really hurting.  I hurt Him every time I picked up the phone or ran to someone else with a problem or exciting news.

I’m not saying God doesn’t want us to talk to those we’re close to…of course He does!  They’re blessings from Him.  But if they come before God, if their opinions and advice come before His, we’re in trouble.  We may as well find ourselves a fat piece of wood and start carving.  We can label it “idol,” stand the thing up on a pedestal, and admit we’ve got a problem.

So how can you make this right with God?

First, tell Him you’re sorry.  Then ask for the Holy Spirit to help you every time you feel the urge to run to someone else first.

Before long, you’ll be excited to have a little alone time with the Lord just so you can pour out your heart to Him.  You’ll find yourself singing to Him in the car, laughing because you hit a horrible note and you know He’s smiling anyway.  You’ll drop to your knees to thank Him when the good news you’ve been waiting for finally comes.  And you’ll feel His arm around you, His hand upon your head as He pulls you close when you break down and cry because someone has been careless with your heart once again.

Maybe while your heart is healing, God will open your eyes to a new blessing, making that pain fade like an old photograph in a discarded album.

And God will be smiling upon you because you will finally realize His throne in heaven casts an awfully big shadow on that shabby little pedestal.

“You must worship no other gods, for the Lord, whose very name is Jealous, is a God who is jealous about his relationship with you.” (Exodus 34:14 NLT.)