A no from God can be more beneficial to us than His yes.

When God Says No.

Tonight, as I began my nightly devotion, I went through my usual routine of journaling… starting with praise. I thanked Him for all the things He’s blessed me with, for bringing me through another day, and for answered prayers. Tonight, however, I felt an urge to thank Him for something I’ve never really given much thought to… I began to thank Him for unanswered prayers.

“Tonight, I’m thankful for unanswered prayers,” I wrote. “We always tend to thank Him for our answered prayers — which is good. But I feel at times we forget that a ‘no’ from God can be more beneficial to us than His yes.” I paused, and began my nightly routine. As I was brushing through my hair, I let that thought sink in…

“A ‘no’ from God can be more beneficial to us than His yes.”

I began to reflect on all the times I’ve begged God to answer certain prayers. To keep certain relationships from dying, to deliver me from struggles of anxiety and the like… Looking back, I can see that not only were some of my prayers selfish, but I am beyond grateful and thankful He said no.

Had God answered those prayers, I would not be where I am today. I would not be in Raleigh, serving under the most anointed leadership and being mentored by some of the greatest prayer warriors in my life. I would not have met my forever friends. I would not have been able to reach out, love, and serve the most beautiful and sweetest people in Taboro, North Carolina.

Had God answered those prayers, I would not be who I am today. I would not have gone through the process, the molding, the stretching, the breaking that has made me into the person I am today. Without going through certain storms in my life, I would not have learned certain valuable lessons and truths that have made me stronger. I would not have the testimony that I have and share with others today.

“When we follow His leading and stay true to His call on our lives,” I continued, “we’ll soon realize that for every ‘no’ there is a far greater YES in His plan for our lives.”

I share this with you tonight to encourage you. Don’t be discouraged when God tells you no… He’s just leading you to His greatest blessings and plan for your life. One of the Brothers at our church said it this way, “When God tells you no, He’s just leading you to a ‘new opportunity.'”

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Lessons Learned.

In my last post, I mentioned how a few weeks ago I felt like a failure for not following through on many of my 2017 goals. However, I did become aware of something very important.  I came to understand that even though my 2017 didn’t turn out the way I had planned it and though it wasn’t as productive as I had hoped, I’ve gained so much in the lessons I learned.

At the beginning of 2017, I stated how I wanted to go deeper in the Lord and that had become my word for the year. Little did I know that God had planned me to go deeper by experience, not just in practice of the principles I had hoped to apply to my life. Think of it in a way similar to on the job training, but instead He took me through some “real life training.” It is there where He exposed me to different situations to force me to grow out of my comfort zone instead of comfortably sitting there planning what I’d change. Through these growing experiences, I’ve learned a few very important lessons.

Distractions are real. I think that this may have been one of the biggest reasons I hadn’t followed through with many of my goals. I had let people and situations and lack of motivation get in my way. Be intentional with your time, money, and even your relationships. When something starts interfering with your walk with God, it’s time to take a step back and reevaluate. If it proves to be a major distraction that’s taking away from your life instead of adding value to it, remove it.

Don’t change who you are at your core to try to fit someone else’s expectations of you. God made you uniquely you for a reason. Yes, we all have things we can work on and ways in which we need to grow. But it is important to let go of the people who are constantly trying to change YOU. You have a God-designed purpose that only you can fill. Your values, your passions, your purpose matters to God. He’s the only One you should be living to please.

People will make time for what they want to. The people who truly love and care about you will make time for you. They will go out of their way for you, treat you with respect, and value your feelings and opinions. They will make you feel secure and let you know that your voice matters. They are the ones who will lift you up and encourage you and not tear you down every time you talk to them. Find more of these people in your life and surround yourself with them, for they will be your long-lasting relationships. This principle is a two-way street, and you must do the same for others. Show the people in your life that you care about them by making more time for them, even when it’s a bit inconvenient. But remember that relationships are worth investing in.

Fear shouldn’t define your life. I’ve had off and on battles with anxiety for about 4 years now. It’s been a real struggle, but God has brought me this far and I know that I will not have to live with this battle inside of me forever. My greatest flaw is that (because of things that happened when I was younger) I’ve become a natural worrier because I tend to care too much about the outcome. But the Bible says to “be anxious for nothing.” We are children of the King, and He cares about us so much that He gave us His Word which is full of promises. There’s no need to worry because He provides for His children. It may feel last minute, but God’s timing is truly perfect. There truly is nothing to fear.

Trusting in Jesus is all that matters. To truly trust in God and His Word is to literally give Him everything. Every worry. Every doubt. Every fear. Every relationship. Every financial decision. Your job. Everything belongs to God and God alone, and He has the final say. Begin and end your day emptying yourself of all your worries and doubts. Give Him your relationships, attitudes, habits, and situations. Lay them at the altar during your devotion time, and leave them there.

Some of you may be looking at this year with excitement, or others with dread. But I encourage you to choose to look at this year as one with new opportunities. You may not check off every single goal, or you accomplish them all! What’s important is that you live this year with expectation and anticipation of opportunities to grow in the Lord and to find His perfect will for your life.

The Beauty of a Fresh Start

Have you ever looked back on your year and feel instant regret? Have you found yourself in that moment where you realize that most of your goals have gone unaccomplished? Or that things just didn’t go quite as planned?

I’ve found myself there recently. I’ve recently been reflecting on all the goals and plans I dreamed up for 2017, and slowly began to realize that I didn’t follow through on many of them. Or plans changed, and I was unable to accomplish them due to my circumstances.

For a moment, I felt discouraged and defeated. I even felt like a failure. But only for a moment. Continue reading