But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. Jonah 1:1-3
Nope. No thanks. No can do. I’ve heard other people use these words, but I, myself, find it very hard to utter them. Even telemarketers and those hucksters at the mall and superstores fill me with trepidation at the thought of having to politely say ‘no’ half a dozen times before they leave me be. I avoid them at all costs.
Several times lately someone has said to me, “You’re too busy! Just tell them ‘no!’” I nodded, but I’ve thought a lot about that since then and have come to a conclusion.
I made a commitment long ago to alter my life and free up my schedule to make room for working for the Lord. This was something I definitely felt called to do. In the beginning that involved a lot of child rearing activities, but now, not so much. So, when an occasion arises and someone calls on me, I generally look at it through the filter of a ‘God’ opportunity. Is God arranging this so I can learn something, be challenged by something, advance His Kingdom work somehow, witness to someone, or just get to know someone better? Or, am I the best person for this? Is God preparing me for something by this? It’s usually only later that I actually check my schedule. I’ve rarely regretted saying yes.
I would like to put in a good word about making yourself available. When I think to myself about why some people have awesome opportunities to serve the Lord and experience success after success, while others of us seem stuck around the starting gate, I ask if we’ve ‘been faithful in the little things.’ The Lord rewards those who do a small job well with greater responsibility. We all need to be honest with ourselves about whether or not we truly WANT greater responsibility. I know I have not. But God loves us too much to leave us stuck in our fear, or apathy, or whatever it is that keeps us from wanting God’s best for us no matter what it takes. I think of Him like a parent who knows that making us take out the trash will ultimately build character, obedience and perseverance.
Often, like with Jonah, we say ‘no, thanks’ to God, and He says, ‘but this will be a growth experience for you, to prepare you for what comes next in life.’ We reply, ‘growth means discomfort, and I haven’t got time for the pain.’ And then God sends a storm and a giant fish to reorder our priorities. As it says in Isaiah 55:10-11, the Lord will accomplish His purposes.
As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
And speaking of ‘bread for the eater,’ on this subject of being available to help out, I often think of the Little Red Hen. There are always plenty of reasons to say ‘no:’ "I'm sorry, but I'm too busy wallowing in the mud to help you," "I would love to help, but I'm busy swimming in the pond," "I'm sorry, but I have to take care of myself and groom my fur,” "I have other things to attend to, like guarding the house and keeping watch," etc. But I’m more afraid of missing out on something that the Lord has for me, some lesson, or gift or insight. When we fail to make ourselves available to the Lord, we don’t just miss out on fresh, hot, homemade bread, we miss out on the Bread of Heaven.
**To all those I have ever successfully said ‘no’ to, please know that I really did think it over first and just couldn’t.