“Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” James 4:8 (NIV)
There is a gap in age between our middle child and youngest. As a result, there are quite a few times when he can’t participate in the fun activities of his siblings due to his development, size, or mandatory age requirements. Sometimes, he will protest initially, but he always calms down quickly and finds an alternative activity, one that is age appropriate. He ends up having fun and seems content staying with mom.
That scenario reminded me of my relationship with Jesus. Temptations, in many different forms, confront us on a daily basis. We’re presented with different scenarios and tactics to try and get us to compromise, sometimes subtly, but other times quite blatantly.
We have a choice. We can either give in, which creates problems for the Christ follower of guilt, compromise, and the slippery slope leading to a cycle of sin. We can kick and scream, resulting in a temper tantrum of gargantuan proportion because we want the temptation while a part of us also wants to obey. Or, we can trust that the reason Jesus warns us again the temptations is for our own good.
We love each of our children. While we encourage our oldest two to participate in fun activities that fit their age level and capabilities, we also teach our littlest to stay away from such activities until he is older and it is safe for him, developmentally, to participate. It’s not that we’re denying our youngest the chance to have fun. It’s that if he chose to engage , he could get hurt in a way that impacts his life permanently.
Jesus warns us away from temptations that He knows will hurt us, not until we’re developmentally ready but because He knows that if we start down certain paths, the consequences can be pretty severe and He wants the best for us. He sees the big picture, the way we as parents see the big picture for our children. He doesn’t say “no” to be mean. He says “no” because He loves us and wants to protect us.
The older I get, the quicker I am to listen to God’s prompting when He tells me “no.” I may initially protest, thinking I’m going to miss out on something special, but I have more peace when I stay within the boundaries God gives me. Just as our youngest trusts me when I tell him it’s not safe for him to join his siblings, I trust God when He tells me “no.” I don’t need an explanation. I feel treasured that He loves me enough to keep me safe.
Friends, God loves each and every one of you that much too. Is there an area in your life where God has been saying “no?” Have you been listening or ignoring His voice? I want to encourage you to step out and trust that when God says “no,” it’s for your best.
© Cheri Swalwell 2014