All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful, but not all things build up.
1 Corinthians 10:23
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9
No one likes to hear “no”. Divine denial of our requests can prompt pout and doubt. We grumble to God like a petulant child. “I want it,” we wail. We might even have the infantile audacity to pray, “If you really loved me you would let me!” But can you remember a time (or two…) when after your tantrum, clarity dawned and you crumbled in gratitude for the Providential prohibition? You cringe at the thought of the unwise purchase you seriously considered, the treacherous path you planned, or the man you bawled about for months when in retrospect you wonder, “What was I thinking?”
One of my favorite and frequent prayers is, “Lord, save me from me.” All of us struggle with what Mr. David Powlison calls “regime change in our mini-kingdom, overthrowing all-knowing me.” But if we honestly believe God loves us and has a better plan than our own, “no” merely becomes a directional sign.
Consider the young child whose parents forbid him from riding his bicycle on the busy city streets. But he wants to go down to the mini-mart and buy himself a treat with his lawn mowing money. “If you loved me, you’d let me,” he whines. So when Mama’s distracted, talking to Aunt Bell on the telephone, he sneaks out. He’s riding a little wobbly ‘cus he knows he’s misbehavin’, and the fast cars whizzing past have him all flustered. When a big ol’ loud truck comes flying by, he loses his balance and lands in the ditch. His spirit and his bicycle wheel are both crumpled.
Let’s muse for a moment on your food and fitness efforts. Battles of the brain and flesh are unrelenting. “But I want it! It tastes good. One small piece won’t hurt.” Satan hasn’t changed his strategy much over the centuries. (Seems he doesn’t need to…) “Did God really say don’t eat of the fruit,” he slyly seduced, and Eve caved. It’s truly astonishing to watch a mature Christian get overwhelmed and hijacked by a brownie. But you’ve been there, haven’t you? Arguing with yourself over short-term satisfaction. Saints, never forget Isaiah 55:8-9: For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Do you believe that? When things aren’t going your way, or when you really want something and God’s whispering, “no”, do you trust His higher thoughts? The best news is you don’t have to obey in your own strength. He’ll give you the gumption to do or not do what He’s asking of you. Always keep Isaiah 41:10 in your pocketbook for quick reference: I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. That is pure affection that brings me pause.
Like editing a Word document, overwrite “one time won’t hurt” with “He’s smarter than I, and is right here strengthening and helping me defy Satan’s destructive seduction.”
His thoughts and His love are high.