Saying “No” to God
Being a grade 3 teacher is a humbling experience. Yes, it’s a joy. Yes, it’s a privilege. But, boy is it edifying! If you’re a parent, a grandparent, an aunt, an uncle, a Sunday school teacher, or if you’ve ever just been around kids, you might know what I’m talking about. Kids have a special way of pushing us to our limits and causing us to see our own shortcomings.
This past week, I had two incidents in my third grade classroom that caused an “ouch-that-hurt” kind of conviction.
The first incident was during what I call “reading rotation”. During this block of the day, students rotate through various reading centres while I work with students on their reading. About 10 minutes into our rotation, I noticed one of my students was curled up under his table, trying to hide from my line of sight. When my eyes met his, he quickly turned and faced the opposite direction. I waited for a minute or two to see if he would choose to start working now that he had been spotted. Yeah, no. That didn’t happen. So, I got up from my table, went over to him, and asked him to get started on his work. He quickly responded with, “No! I will not do my work and you can’t make me!” I took a deep breath and began to work on convincing this student to get out from under the table. I won’t bore you with the details, but I will let you know that it took a while and it was not fun. Throughout the process, I kept on thinking, “Wow, he’s so stubborn!”
The second incident happened multiple times during the week. I am blessed to be a teacher at a Christian school, so a big highlight of my day is being able to worship with my students. During our time of worship each morning, I have three students each choose a song to sing as a class. This week, whenever a student chose the song “Give Me Faith” by Elevation Worship (a popular choice in my class these days!), I had one student who would sit down in a huff, cover his ears with his hands, put a scowl on his face, and refuse to listen to the song. He would stay that way for the remainder of our worship time and would not move. If I came close, he would close his eyes. Something about the song completely changed his whole demeanour. This happened 3 times this week. Throughout our time of worship, I kept on thinking, “Wow, his heart is so hard!”
Fast forward to Friday. My alarm went off early in the morning to wake me up for devotions. I found myself mumbling the words, “no, no, no, no, no…” from beneath the covers. I laid there for a while. I knew that God was wanting me to get up and spend time with him. A few minutes later, after my husband had already gotten up and gone to his quiet time spot, I cuddled up with my pillow and said into the dark room, “No!”. Cue the rush of conviction into my heart. My mind instantly went to that boy under his table, refusing to do what I had asked him to do. I thought about the student refusing to listen to what God was trying to speak to him through the worship song. Ouch. That hurt. It’s humbling to think that I am just like my third graders. Just as stubborn. Just as hard-hearted. So, I got up. I didn’t want to. But, I did. And, I know it’s what I needed to strengthen me for another day with 22 third graders.
If you’re like me, you’ve been there. God wants you to do something, but you just don’t want to. So, you ignore him, or you make excuses, or you just bold-faced tell him “no”.
Maybe you’ve had dialogue with God that sounds something like these:
God: Come spend time with me.
You: No, It’s been a long day. I’m going to watch that Netflix show instead.
God: Go over to that woman and ask her if she needs help.
You: No, I need to get these groceries home and start dinner.
God: Be a bit more generous with your finances this month.
You: No, we’ve already set the budget for the month and we’re saving up for something else.
God: Go and put your arm around your spouse.
You: No, I’m hurt and upset and I was right this time.
God: Call up that friend you’ve been meaning to call.
You: No, I’ll call her some other time.
Did any of these come with an “ouch-that-hurt” kind of conviction?
Matthew 11:30 says,
“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light”
If I’m being honest, sometimes I find myself feeling like obeying God is a burden. Like it’s taking away from my time, my sleep, my finances, my pride, my comfort, my schedule. But, even though it feels like it demands sacrifice, God’s commands are never meant to burden us. They’re for our good. They’re meant to give us lives that are free from the demands of the world and dependent on the one who made it. I pray today that you find freedom and blessing in hearing God’s voice and actively responding to Him!
Ask yourself today:
Is there anything that I know God is trying to tell me, but I’m choosing to ignore it?
How are my words or actions saying “no” to what God is asking me to do?