When “No” Is Grace

A guest post by Molly Parker.

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“Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” 1 Peter 2:11-12

What would change if we viewed God asking us to lay something down as grace, instead of a rule to follow? How often do we actually view sin as waging war against our soul?

A very clear “no”. That’s what it was. I’ve often been jealous of friends who could so clearly hear God’s direction in their life, but when it came to me, I wished it hadn’t. He was asking me to walk away. From a relationship that, in all honesty, made me happy, from someone with whom I enjoyed spending time. For a while, I was perfectly content to pretend I hadn’t felt it and to let things keep playing out exactly the way I wanted. Because this made me happy, this was what I wanted, therefore, it must have been what God wanted for me.

But then. The ever-sharp sword of the Spirit cut deep.

“Beloved, I urge you …to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.”

It’s easy to see the connection between some of God’s instruction and damage to your heart and soul. Plenty of homes have been wrecked by adultery. Lying never creates a thriving community. Stealing doesn’t build anyone up or encourage anyone. But what about the things that don’t seem that bad? The things that seem good and normal but God whispers “not for you” or “not yet”? Because really that’s what this relationship was, something my human nature wanted. Not inherently evil, but something I was feeling very clearly called away from.

Would my reaction to these directives change if I saw them as grace,
saw them as God’s defense against war being fought against my soul?

Because once again, my heart needs reminding of the loving Father I have. Because once again I’ve lost sight of the fact that he has my best interest in mind. When words from God change from rules to be followed to life he is giving, my heart can hold onto them more graciously.

A wise friend recently told me that if God isn’t giving you something, you really aren’t missing out. Even if it feels like you’re the only one not going to that college or with a cute new boyfriend.

When I can see the things God takes away as grace, I can hold on to the fact that he promises every good gift. I can trust that he isn’t holding out on me. That where I am and what I have right now is exactly what he knows I need.  And while that may comfort my heart and make following easier, it ultimately ends in something even better: the glory of God.

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I will continue to bring God my heart when he says no and I don’t understand.

I’ve seen it in the past. I’ve looked back on something I wanted with a grateful heart that God didn’t let me have it. Which should make accepting these new no’s easier. I’ll admit that I probably see the grace sooner. Maybe one day I’ll learn to see it when it is given. But until then, I will continue to bring God my heart when he says no and I don’t understand.

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Molly is a fourth year student at Georgia Tech with a heart for the nations. Check out more of her story over on Boasting in Weakness.

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