NO! Defiance

Laundry, Dog Hair and Dirty Dishes
February 11, 2010
NO! Part II: Preferance & Pleading
February 13, 2010

NO! Defiance

I turn my back for one second and I hear the infamous “splash-splash.” Whirling around with a stern look on my face I see her crouched down at the dog’s dish tapping her fingers in the water. I move toward her in swift disciplinary mode; gently lifting her by the arms, I firmly say “No, ma’am!” She protests with an angry “No! No! NO!” Part of her inflection is an expression of wanting her way, and part of it clearly understands she is mimicking my own “No!” She comprehends she is not allowed to do that.

Grace’s one favorite word right now is “No!” She is a toddler, learning her boundaries and she gets told, “No”, quite a bit. No to playing in the dog water. No to climbing the stairs. No to throwing food on the floor. No—no—-no… She hears it, understands it— and now claims it! She says, “No!” all the time. My mother warned me and my brothers. “If you say ‘No’ to them all the time, that’s all they are going to say!” But, while my mom may be partially right, I have to say that I do not mind Gracie’s emphatic No’s!

Just as she is learning the boundaries for what she can and cannot do, she is also learning to set personal boundaries and express herself, her likes and dislikes. What she wants and does not want. And just because she says “NO” does not mean she is going to get her way. She is still not going to get to play in the dog’s water, or climb the stairs alone, or throw food on the floor. So, her “No” does not phase me. As my good friend Debbie says, “Its hard work civilizing little people!”

It occurred to me that this expression of “No” is not much different in our walk with the Lord. We have many ways that we say “No” to God. And our “No” combined with His response and our choices is what builds our obedience. I think there are a lot of different ways we express “NO!” to God, but right now let’s talk about the defiant “No.” This is when we simply refuse to do what God has asked. Of course the popular method of modern discipline for parenting is the good old “Time-out.” When I was a kid it was “Stand in the corner!” In my family we used to joke that my youngest brother has a pointed forehead for all the hours he spent standing in the corner!

But, don’t be fooled. Do you think people were the first to come up with this strategy? Try again! If you think Jo, the Super-Nanny’s, time-out on the “naughty cube” is torture, think again— God’s time-outs are way worse! You could find yourself in the pitch-dark pit of a whale’s gut, knee-deep seawater all around and no galoshes or proper Gortex rain gear! Jonah knows what a real “time- out” is like. When God specifically asked Jonah to go and preach in Nineveh, Jonah defiantly got on a boat and went in the opposite direction. Jonah’s efforts to flee from the Lord were about as successful as Gracie getting away with splashing in the dog water as I stood three feet way. Instead of ending up in Tarshish, Jonah ended up in a “time-out” of three days and three nights in the belly of a whale. You don’t want to be put in one of God’s time-outs—- Its stinks! (Pun definitely intended…)

On a more serious note, though, think about our lives and how many times our God asks us to go in service to him, as he asked Jonah, and we refuse. We ignore His calling, we deny we heard him speak to us, we justify our busy schedules, we choose comfort over uprooting ourselves, and sometimes we console ourselves by throwing a little donation here and there, dropping our pocket change in the Salvation Army kettle at Christmas time thinking that will suffice… but will it?

We joke in our parenting about how we are civilizing people, and while this work is very real and significant, I am constantly reminded that the transformative power of Christ must be allowed to work to civilize me and my own “grown up” heart. It is crucial for my own defiance and rebellions to be tamed, not just for my own good, but also for the good of my family, friends, and for the people of the Lord I hope to serve.

What happens to you when you say “NO” to God? I know what happens to me, and while I have not personally found myself in the pit of a whale’s gut, I can think of a lot of situations where I said “NO!” to the Lord and ended up feeling like that was exactly where I was! And I know what happens when I say, “Yes, Lord!”, and WOW, what a difference obedience makes! The light, the fruit and the joy in abundance, the blessings so generously bestowed even in the times where my obedience was more like the irritated teenager rolling their eyes and just doing it ever-so-reluctantly and un-cheerfully, even then, the end product has been a blessing from the Lord. And so I wonder… how much greater would those blessings be? How much am I standing in the way of having deeper, richer, greater blessings from the Lord by my moments of disobedience? How much more fruit could I bear and how much more joy and peace in my life if I spent more time saying and acting on “Yes, Lord, Yes, Lord, Yes, Lord, YES!!!”?