“I want it and I want it now!” Have your kids ever said this to you? Sometimes I can act like a kid before God. I go to Him with my prayers and ask for everything that I WANT and HOW I want it and WHEN. I never stop to ask Him what He wants for me. I assume He wants what I want. The thought doesn’t cross my mind that maybe He doesn’t want the same thing. Maybe He wants something completely different for my life. Maybe He knows that my request isn’t what is best for me.
Perhaps I have matured in this area. Lately I’ve been telling God, “I don’t want what I want anymore. I want what you want. Because I know you want what is best for me.” I can’t see into the future like God can. I can’t see how things will turn out if I get what I’m asking for. Sometimes the most loving thing for God to say to me is NOT what I want to hear. Sometimes God says, “No.”
Looking back on my life I can see how God saying “No” to me has kept me out of trouble. I remember boyfriends who I thought for sure were “The Ones”. I prayed and poured out my heart to God asking for what I thought was His will. “Surely He wants what I do. I don’t want to be single the rest of my life.” After things didn’t work out like I thought they should, I felt irritated with God. “Why aren’t you answering my prayers? Why are you keeping silent? Why is nothing happening? Why. . . ?”
In my lowest point, I wondered if prayer really worked. I even stopped praying. “What is the point?” I reasoned to myself. “I spend all this time praying and for what. Prayer isn’t working so why bother.” I felt confused. I questioned whether God cared for me. It was a very difficult time in my life. I felt God had let me down. God had disappointed me and I was hurting inside.
At first I just pushed my feelings aside and tried not to care. I acted like it didn’t bother me . . . but it did. After the numbness wore off, I was left with a lot of questions. “Where was God when I needed Him most? Why doesn’t He care enough to stop this pain?” To be honest, I didn’t get a lot of answers right away. I don’t think I was ready to hear His answer. I was so stuck on what I wanted that I don’t think I could have heard His “No”. I tried to make sense of what happened and still keep my faith. But nothing made sense. For years I thought something was wrong with me. I concluded that God is perfect and I am not, so it must be my fault.
Now I know differently. I wasn’t ready to listen to God’s “No”. I was so focused on what I wanted, there wasn’t any room for God. I only wanted what I WANTED and I wanted it now. God loved me too much to give me what I asked for when He knew it wasn’t His best. The whole time I was questioning God, He was keeping me safe from making a bad decision and marrying the wrong man. Now I can see what He was doing. But I did not see it then. God was being patient with me.
Now that my perspective has changed, so have my prayers. I don’t want to come to God with a big list of everything I want and expect Him to magically check off my list. I’m starting to ask Him, “What do you want, God? What do you think is best?” I am convinced that God has bigger dreams for us than we dare to dream for ourselves. When I face uncertain situations in the future, I remember what I learned so many years ago. Sometimes God’s “No” is exactly what I need.
I want what God wants for me. I won’t settle for anything less. I can’t pretend to know better when experience has proven me wrong before. I still get fearful when I can’t see what God is doing. I still get anxious when I don’t understand His plan. But I would be foolish to not listen or pay attention to His answer.
I don’t want what I want anymore. I want what God wants. Because I know He wants what is best for me. Sometimes God’s “No” is exactly what I need.