The King David went in and sat before the LORD and prayed.” – 2 Samuel 7:18
When I was in college I met a girl that I was quite taken with. She was beautiful to look at, loved God with all her heart and her father was a pastor and my homiletics professor. She was the perfect girl to fulfill my dream of having the perfect wife to accompany me in my ministry to teach God’s Word. God created me to desire such a woman and it seemed the right thing to do.
However, this girl had another plan, and this other plan was called “Jeff.” After spending the day with her at the beach and learning it was to be our last outing together, I was walking back to the car alone and dejected when God spoke to my heart.
“Jim, will you remain single for Me?”
I couldn’t help but wonder if this was some kind of cosmic joke. I was in the midst of walking away from one of the most beautiful ladies I’d ever known and God is asking me if I’ll remain single for Him. Being the Biblical scholar I foolishly claimed to be, I quickly scanned my limited knowledge of Scripture and remembered Abraham getting Isaac back after attempting to sacrifice him to God. So I said to God, “Sure. If I sacrifice marriage, can I have it back?”
Can I offer you a piece of advice? Avoid quoting Scripture at God as a way of wiggling out of something you don’t want to do. It makes for a very tense moment between you and God until you answer His question. And I did answer His question. Ten months later. I said “yes,” but it was a lonely ten months.
Of course, there was nothing wrong with wanting this girl to be my wife. God created me to want a wife. He created me to want to share my life with a woman where we would walk together in the ministry of His Good News. I wasn’t asking for something that was unbiblical. I was asking for something He created me to desire. But still He said “No.”
David found himself in a similar situation. After establishing peace in Israel and bringing the Ark to Jerusalem, David looks around him and realizes that not everything is in order. Sure, there is peace. Yes, Jerusalem no longer belongs to the Jebusites. Of course, David now lives in a palace. But the Ark of God lives in a tent. So He decides to build a house for God. He runs it by his pastor and spiritual advisor, and the prophet Nathan says, “Sounds good to me. Go for it.”
But later that night God says to Nathan, “Not so quick. I have other plans for David and they do not include building a Temple. That is reserved for his son. Instead, I’m going to build a kingdom through David.” And this is the message Nathan brings to David.
And David’s response? He goes and sits down before the Lord. It took me ten months to sit before the Lord when my plans were rejected, but David does it immediately. I decided to sulk, whereas David decided to seek God.
When God has told you “No,” did you sulk or did you seek Him? Did you feel rejected like I did, or did you come to understand that God was simply redirecting you? That’s what God did to me. He redirected my steps from a beach in California to move to Arkansas to meet another beautiful woman (who was also from California!), who will soon be my wife of twenty years.
I challenge you to look at the good things you’ve wanted to do for God and see that when He has said “No,” it is often not a rejection but a redirection. The Lord told David that his desire to build the Temple was excellent (2 Chron. 6:8). His heart was in the right place, but God had other plans. The Temple did get built by Solomon and David contributed tons of material for the project. It all worked out perfectly, as God knew it would.
Of course, we don’t often see then end so we take God’s “No” as a rejection, as I did on that beach in California. It took me ten years to realize that God’s “No” to one fine lady was also a redirection that allowed Him to say “Yes” to another. And had I just taken the time to go and sit before the Lord and seek Him, I’m sure my season of sulking would have been shortened by many months.