When the answer is no

I had to say no, and disappoint my friend. That was tough – and as I considered how I would explain my reasons for no, it bothered me all day. There is nothing that causes more distress for me than being the source of disappointment to anyone…friend, co-workers, acquaintances, family… disappointment is high on my list of things to avoid. Have you ever felt that way?

I can easily say no to a commitment that is blatantly out of  my field of experience, “Would you be able to design and build this website?”  or outside my economic abilities to give, “Can we count on you for a $500 donation?”  Um “No!”  See how easy it is to say no in those circumstances?  But what about commitments that ask mostly for a few hours of your time and a donation on a smaller scale? What if the event is for a worthwhile cause and you were specially invited by a genuine friend?  We all have friends who are ‘friends’ only when they want something in return. To those friends it’s easy to look to the sky, look to the side, then look back at them and say ‘No! I’m not doing that.’

Here’s  the thing, and maybe you can relate. I struggled with my decision, and that in itself was an indicator that this event needed to be attended and celebrated by someone else, not by me.

1 John 4:1 says “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Well – that didn’t work! This event is for an organization that is 100% sold out to God. There are no false prophets involved.   Still, I had no peace about saying yes and I struggled with saying no.  There are consequences with yes and there are consequences with no.  So I continued. Galatians 5:10 “I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty.” Oh brother!  The only one throwing me into confusion is me, myself! Do I really, seriously want to pay the penalty for my own indecision?  Do you see where this is leading?

I was arguing with myself over a decision that has already been made in the reality of what I could do and what I couldn’t. Prayer changes things. 1 Corinthians 14:33 came alive right at the time I needed it.  “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.” God had to lay it all out for me.  If I said yes to this commitment, my life would be in chaos; not just on the evening of the event, but in every evening leading up to it.  Why? Because other commitments would have to slide over on the timetable and I envisioned a collision all the way into the weekend.

I had to say no, I had to disappoint someone, but I was comforted when my friend said she understood and when I read this later on in my quiet time. Philippians 2:13 “It is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” God’s answers are not always so obvious but He spoke and I listened this time. I feel better about that situation, but now I have another one on the horizon whose consequences are yet unknown.  I wonder what Joshua would do, or Gideon, or David, or how about Paul? Here’s something to remember and think about for you and for others.  Colossians 1:9-11 “We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father.

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