Wednesday, August 30, 2017

When God Says No

I remember a difficult season of life when God consistently said, "No." It was a time in which over and over again we gathered courage and hope, only to repeatedly find our dreams unfulfilled. Truth be told, it is a period I prefer to consider in retrospect and would never wish to relive! Only with time as a teacher did I come to realize there was much we learned through God's "No."

More than a dozen years ago, this season revolved around our adoption desires. During a period of many months we had our hopes raised followed by dreams dashed time and again in a vicious cycle. A call from an adoption agency would come, describing a infant's situation and asking us if we would like our profile shown. Our profile was a scrapbook of us - our life and family - and as it went out it felt like holding our breath and asking with childlike expectation, "Do you like me?" 

In response to almost every situation we said "Yes." But every time we said "Yes," God said "No."

It was very hard. In the hours and days between our "Yes" and God's "No," I would picture the child in question and imagine bringing him or her home, daring to imagine this little person becoming part of the fabric of our family. Little did I know that it could and would get even harder when we were chosen and waited out the breathless months of pregnancy only to return with empty arms. Nor did I understand how excruciating it would be to hold a newborn close to our hearts for one incredible week and then be informed we must let him go.

But I believe God did know and understand. I believe His "No" in so many cases was simply a means of protecting us from greater hurt and harm. Because He is sovereign and omniscient and a loving Father, His "No" was meant for our good.

This week we heard His "No" again. Not regarding a child, but still in respect to a dream. It has been our wish for many years to one day own a home. Over the last decade in Chile we have visited several potential properties, prayed hopeful prayers and spoken with almost every bank in town. Because of our status as foreigners and the corresponding red tape, our search has always ended at a closed door. Only now as we prepared for a year stateside did it seem as though the timing might be right to pursue home ownership, albeit in a different direction.

With three sisters eventually ministering in Chile and rotating furloughs stateside, it made sense to consider a place in the U.S. that each of us could call home with our families in respective turns. The urgency of one sister needing a house to rent by the end of summer - coinciding with our return to the States - led us to begin searching long-distance even before then. With the help of modern technology such as FaceTime and Skype, we visited many locations but none were a perfect fit.

Then to put it poetically, it seemed everything fell into place and the light shone green and we signed papers of intention and with fear and trepidation waited for word this week on the outcome of our deferred dream. Just as I had years ago, I dared to imagine what the fulfillment of this desire might mean for our family. We purposely pursued a duplex in order to eventually afford living in one side while renting the other, but I even dreamed about what it might be like many years in the future if we retired there while our own children or grandchildren served God in missions. How sweet it would be to have a place to offer them every time they came home!

There were lots of hopes and aspirations when we finally said "Yes." But, His answer was still "No." The sellers pulled the house off the market and with nothing similar in our price range, we find ourselves in that old familiar place of waiting once again.

Yet even so, all is well. The lessons learned a decade ago still hold true today. We know and we trust that because He was then and is still and always will be sovereign and omniscient and a loving Father, His "No" was again meant for our good. And if history/His story holds true, when His "Yes" does come it will be "exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think!" (Ephesians 3:20) 

What a comfort to serve a God Whose "No" can be just what our heart needs to hear.

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