The Blessing of “No”: Why God Never Laughs At Our Plans (Free Printable)

Have you waited for your plans to come unfold only to have them fall apart?  Have you mapped out the blueprint to your life but can’t seem to make it a reality?  You may have heard the joke, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans”.  But in reality, as difficult as it is to let go of our expectations, God’s “no” is so often what we need most.

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One spring day, my dad was going through my grandparents’ old things.  In the trash pile, I saw some old rolled-up blueprints.  I unrolled them to find a picture of a house that was never built and a dream that had never been realized.

My grandparents lived in New Jersey and had grand plans to build the very home sketched on those worn, brittle pages.

However, God had a different plan. 

Establishes Steps - Renovated Faith

An opportunity to start their own photography business arose in Houston and the house they had dreamed of was never built.   Knowing the move from New Jersey to Texas would be a difficult one, they almost changed their minds at the last possible minute.  However, the moving van was just around the corner and so were the plans that the Lord had laid before them.

What would have happened if the dream of that house was realized?  What would have come about if they had stayed in New Jersey and adhered to their plan?  For one thing, my parents may have never met and I would have never been born.  They had to make a sacrifice to follow the right plan and my life was one result of many.

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In the same way, God had to tell His only son “no”.  While praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, right before Judas’ betrayal, Jesus prayed out to His Father, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39)

God knew that Christ’s death on the cross would force His only Son to bear merciless pain but the outcome would be far worth His suffering.  As a result of Christ’s death on the cross, a sacrifice was made allowing anyone access to eternal life by having faith in Him.

In every situation, the source for God’s “no” is His love for us.  There are several things we can learn from this example in Gethsemane:

  1. God understands that change is hard for us. It was not sinful that Christ asked for the cup to be taken from Him.   Therefore, it is not a sin to ask for a break from suffering, but like Christ, we should be submissive to God’s plans overall.
  2. God knows suffering is…well, suffering. He realizes pain is difficult and He doesn’t expect us to like it.  It’s a sacrifice for a reason.  No grit, no pearl.
  3. Our plans don’t make God laugh. God doesn’t take joy in our suffering.  Can you imagine the anguish God felt when He had to watch His Son die on the cross?  God changes our plans because He knows sometimes difficulties are necessary for us to experience His best.
  4. God’s no is ALWAYS worth it. Christ experienced the depths of human anguish on a level we will fortunately never fully experience.  But in the end, He appeared before the disciples, his fishing buddies, and showed them the scars on his hands, with joy in His heart and the gleam of heaven in His eye.  Because of His sacrifice, we can experience that same joy in His Presence.

We’ve all been there.  Each of us had experienced times when God had said no to our dreams – when he has closed a door that we always envisioned walking through.  So often I have kicked and screamed when these times have come, pouting all the way as God ushers me to plan B.  But in reality, I eventually realize that His plans were Plan A all along, that He knew what was best, in spite of what I thought was best for me.

When I look at the blueprint, now framed in our office, I am thankful for God’s “no’s”  Whether it was the boy I shouldn’t have been dating, the career I would have been miserable in or the house that wasn’t meant to be, He knew His plans were best and loved me enough to redirect me from what I thought I wanted most.

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To download this printable, check out my post DIY Faux Painted Signs (Free Scripture Printables)

Where are you stuck right now?  Do you feel like God is putting up a roadblock to some area or your life?  Here are three possible reasons for God’s “no” in your life right now.

  1. Disobedience – God tells us “no” when we are not obedient to Him and His Word. Fortunately the Lord is faithful to those who return to Him.  God disciplines those He loves as a father disciplines His child in order to protect them.  Defiantly seeking things not of Him is like sticking your hand in snake den. Eventually you will get bitten and the results will be painful, if not deadly.
  2. Just Wait” – So often a “no” is really God’s way of telling us to wait either because we aren’t ready for what’s ahead or the circumstances aren’t in place yet. Be patient to see what God has in store – it’s worth the wait!
  3. NO = “My plans are better” – God only changes our plan because His path is better than what we desire. “Better” doesn’t necessarily mean “easier” but His Design will always be worthwhile.

Establishes Steps

“The mind of man plans his way but the Lord directs His steps” (Proverbs 16:9).  There is nothing this world can offer greater than having the creator of the Universe lead you every step of the way.  I would rather walk with God in the dark than go alone in the light.  Even in the hardest of times, we can have contentment knowing that He is our protector.

What about YOU???   What blueprints aren’t going into the construction phase?  What doors is God closing?  Pray to God about what you are experiencing and thank Him for what plans He is working on behind the scenes.

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I hope you were encouraged by my post this week!  If you would like to receive weekly updates from Renovated Faith in your inbox, click HERE.

‘Til Next Time

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7 Tips To Find Your Calling

So often when trying to define God’s call on my life, I felt like His plans for me were elusive and intangible.  In reality, however, I had placed obstacles in my own life that made it hard to hear what He was so patiently and clearly telling me. As God’s handiwork, we are created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).  Our one job is to be obedient to Him and He will take care of everything else.

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1. Just Go With It

When God repeatedly told me to write, my mind was flooded with thoughts like “But what will this lead to?”, “Will this be worth it?” and “Am I SURE this is what He is telling me?”  It was in the midst of this doubt that I read Luke 1, where the angel Gabriel tells Zechariah about the imminent birth of his son, John the Baptist.  Zechariah answers in disbelief saying, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”

The angel responds to his lack of faith by taking away his voice until the day of John’s birth.   In other words, believe God when He tells you to do something the first time.  Don’t spin your wheels by questioning Him but be obedient to the last thing God told you to do – even if you don’t understand it.   He will be sure to show you the next step in His perfect time.

2. It’s God’s Calling, Not Yours

C.S. Lewis once said, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself.  It is thinking of yourself less.”   Pray for God to redirect your focus to “HIS WILL” instead of “his will for ME”.    Don’t chase your call but chase the God who calls you.

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God is our only source of power and strength so if we focus on ourselves, even while trying to do good things, we will surely fall flat on our face.  God has given us each different gifts and talents but without His power burning bright in us, we are like a candle without a flame.  A candle can have a uniquely colorful glow and aroma, but without the flame, it cannot fulfill its true purpose of providing light.

3. You Have Gifts and Talents

There are various spiritual gift surveys online including this one that can give you an idea as to what your God-given gifts are.    In addition, be aware of your talents.  Maybe you are great at decorating, gardening or baking.  Perhaps God wants you to combine your gift of encouragement and baking skills to make gifts for neighbors as a means to reach out to them.  Be prayerful about God can use your gifts and talents to honor Him.

4.  Uncover Your Fears

Don’t allow fears to deter you from following God’s plans.  Allow them to be the very catalyst that drives you to the foot of the cross.  Be mindful of fears when they come into your thought life.  Take those opportunities to not only hand over the fear to God in prayer, but to submit the entire situation over to Him.  For example, maybe I realize I am nervous about a meeting with my daughter’s teacher.  Instead of giving just the fear over to God in prayer, pray to give the entire situation to Him in prayer.   Let your fear be a prompt or reminder that highlights opportunities to allow God to intercede through you as you give the entire situation over to Him.

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5.  Your Calling Is Closely Tied To What You Enjoy

In most sports, there is that feeling you get…just like when you hit a tennis ball on the sweet spot of your racket. You get a good spin on the ball and you know the racket was used exactly how it should be used. Always be watchful for that same feeling. When you find yourself in the middle of a task, hobby or job and notice that same satisfaction, know that you have found the point where your God-given talents align with the tasks He has laid before you. When you approach the point where your gifts and calling intersect, have found your sweet spot.

6. Be tenacious in pursuing your God-given goals.

Sharpening our gifts and talents will take work.  Within the work lies the preparation, growth and character-building that will be necessary when His plans are fully realized.  Development is part of the process because God wants us to make sure we are ready for all He has planned.  It’s through working towards our God-given goals that He prepares us for the task at hand.   The work God does within us while we wait is just as important as what we are waiting for.

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7. Stay in the Word

It’s much like drinking coffee for the first time.  At first, you drink coffee in the morning because you know it will help you get through your day.  But before you know it, it’s a habit, something you crave and can’t make it through the day without.  Know that time in God’s Word is not wasted and God’s Word cannot return void.  As it says in Isaiah 55:11, “so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

My favorite verse is 1 Corinthians 2:9, which states, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard and no mind has conceived what God has planned for those who love Him.”  Know God has plans for you that are so much greater than anything you have imagined.

Which tip was helpful to you and why?  I’d love to hear feedback and your tips below!

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Intentional Goal Setting (Free Printable)

God has graced each one of us with unmistakable dreams, desires and plans for our lives.  He has interlaced those dreams with talents, blessings and spheres of influence unique to each and every one of us.  While God is totally in control, work and discipline on our part are still necessary to see our dreams come to fruition.

In the past, I felt it was my job to sit and wait for God to fulfill His plans for me – like maybe I wasn’t trusting Him if I tried to work towards those goals.  However, anything worth doing will involve a lot of preparation and character-building on my part – and I can’t think of anything more worthy of my time than following God’s Will.

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Goal-planning basically involves making a road map to where you know God is leading you.  The Lord wants us to actively participate in His plans for us by relying upon Him to fulfill our God-given dreams and aspirations.  Within the work lies the preparation, growth and character-building that will be necessary when His plans are fully realized.

Development is part of the process because God wants us to be ready for all He has planned.  As Tony Evans once said, “The worst thing you can have is to be somewhere God wants you to be and not be ready to be there.”  It’s through working towards our God-given goals that He prepares us for the task at hand.

Plan your work and work your plan.   One of my dreams is to be a writer but I’m not going to just wake up tomorrow morning and be an amazing author whose eloquent words just spill onto a blank page.  Not only does it take work to develop the necessary writing skills but also the character-building to be able to handle it when I get there.

Here are fool-proof steps to implement goals:

  1. As mentioned in my post When New Year’s Resolututions Don’t Work, fix your eyes on God and He will show you the goals for your future. There is no accident that you are in your current stage or situation.  It’s liberating to rest in knowing that God is fully aware of where you are at any moment.  Achieving goals has less to do with control and more to do with surrendering your present and future to Him.
  1. What fears pin themselves between you and your dreams? What is the basis for these fears?  For every fear that comes to mind, write down “I fear _____ because__________.”  This is a great exercise to understand what is holding you back.  Submit these feelings to God and learn from them.   When we alleviate these fears from our path, we clearly see the next stepping stone God has laid before us.  Allow your fears to be swept away by faith in your Creator, knowing this kind of fear is never from Him (2 Tim.1:7).  www-renovatedfaith-com-52
  1. Write down areas in which you would like to set goals. This can be any area you would like to improve or any ongoing commitment.  I’ve made a printable below to help with this process.  Here are examples of areas I’d like to focus on:

Helping my daughter to try new foods

Becoming a better writer

  1. After setting your focus area, it’s time to look ahead to see where you would like to be in 3 months.  I recommend setting quarterly goals and reassessing them after each quarter.  As Shana Shutte has said, “God’s revelation is limited and progressive – your goals may change.”  Like in Genesis 12 when God tells Abraham to “go to the land He will show him”, we don’t know the final destination.  God so often shows us to only the next step, whether it’s to build our faith or because we are simply not ready to know His full plans.  Here are some examples for goals in three months:

Focus Area:  Helping my daughter to eat more foods

Goal – What I Envision in Three Months: Less whining and table and she is trying food on a regular basis.

 

Focus Area: Becoming a better writer

Goal – What I Envision in Three Months: I’d like to have read a book on writing and have submitted something to a local Christian magazine.

Notice my goals are not very lofty and some are vague.  There’s a reason for that.  Be sure to be kind to yourself during this process.  Nothing sabotages your goals faster than the guilt and discouragement of setting unattainable goals.

  1. Write out action steps. Start with monthly and then narrow the focus down to weekly and then daily.  Record these baby steps in your calendar or planner.  For example, to get my daughter to try more foods, we are going to set up a sticker chart.  When she tries a new food she gets a sticker and when she fills up the whole chart, we are going to do something special.
  1. Now that you have a plan, you want to reassess and repeat the same process every three months.

Here is a link to a free download to help you make this process more streamlined.  The key to goal-planning with God’s purpose in mind is surrender.  When we stop to be intentional about following His plans for us, we glorify Him and have greater fulfillment in how we spend our time.

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If you think this post will help someone else, please share it!

Til’ Next Time,

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“Inconvenienced” By God

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To escape the hot Texas sun, my daughter and I have spent a lot of time in the pool this summer.    Morgan has made major strides with swimming and no longer sees it as pure torture.  I am relieved that she finally enjoys something she was so scared of last summer.

While swimming with her one day, I suddenly saw a huge water bug in the pool that was at least 2 inches long.  I didn’t think much of it until a few minutes later when I noticed it perched on Morgan’s arm floaty.  I quickly brushed it off without her noticing.   We swam a few minutes more before I realized how unsuccessful I was at getting rid of the bug as it was now in Morgan’s hair!  From behind her, I quietly and stealthily grabbed the nasty bug when she flinched and yelled, “Ouch, why did you pull my hair, Mama?!?”  Fortunately, she never caught on to what I was really doing.

I know my daughter pretty well, and had she realized a huge bug was caught in her hair, she would have never stepped foot in the pool again.  As Morgan saw it, I inconvenienced her by pulling her hair but in reality, I saved her from something I knew would upset her and derail her progress in swimming.

The same situation has happened countless times in my relationship with God.   What I have often seen as an inconvenience, was merely the ripple effect of God’s protection from a hurt or tragedy that only He could have saved me from.

Looking back, there are many instances where I thought I knew what was best for me.  Hindsight is truly 20/20 and I’m thankful God didn’t give me what I prayed He would.  He knows that sometimes what we desire most is the very thing that will destroy us.  Thankfully God is faithful to intervene in the lives of His children to show them a better way, His way.

Maybe it was the boyfriend who broke up with you in high school who you KNEW you would marry.  Maybe it was the not so budget-friendly dream house that slipped through your fingers at the last minute.  Because of His great love for us, there are times God has to drag us kicking and screaming to protect us from less than His best.   And what is best for Him is always best for us.  Proverbs 16:9 says, “The heart of man plans his way but the Lord establishes his steps.”

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In Genesis 37, Joseph was a young Israelite with many brothers who were jealous of Him.  His brothers decided to deal with Joseph once and for all by throwing him in a pit and leaving him to die.  It was then that a group of Ishmaelites came by that his brothers decided to sell him as a slave for less than $100 today.  He was placed in the house of an Egyptian master named Potiphar and everything that Joseph touched, God blessed.

Potiphar’s wife had different plans for Joseph, however.  She accused him of coming onto her and Joseph was placed in prison.  Genesis 39:21 states, “But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sign of the keeper of the prison.”  Before long, Joseph was running the prison and became an interpreter of dreams for the prisoners.  After two years passed, Pharaoh had some dreams he could not make sense of and Joseph was actually called upon out of the prison.  He not only interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams but made Pharaoh aware of the dangerous famines approaching Egypt and the devastation that was ahead if they did not prepare accordingly.

As governor of Egypt, Joseph was put in charge of gathering food.  Instead of allowing his family to perish in the famine, Joseph welcomed them into Egypt along with all the other Israelites.  Joseph’s misfortune was a necessary inconvenience in comparison to blessings that came forth.  Through it, Joseph became governor of Egypt, saved the lives of the Egyptians from the famines and most importantly He was the tool God used to preserve the Israelite line by relocating them.

Often God uses tragedy to accomplish rich blessings beyond our comprehension and no one understands this better than Jesus Christ.  Sin separates us from a relationship with God and the penalty for any sin is death (Romans 3:23).  Jesus knew His death was the only remedy to deal with our sin problem, so  God’s one and only son became a human being and freely died in our place (Romans 5:6-8; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18). He was punished for our sin so that we can receive God’s forgiveness. Then God raised Jesus from the dead, conquering sin and death for us.

Because He voluntarily endured pure torture on the cross, God now offers us eternal life as an absolutely free gift to anyone who trusts in Jesus Christ (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9). That is the meaning of the word “grace.” God gives us His forgiveness and His favor as a free gift, based on what Jesus has done for us. If you believe in Jesus, that He died for your sins and rose from the dead, then you can know that you have eternal life (1 John 5:11-13).

Maybe God has you on what seems to be a perilous path, maybe you feel like there is no end to this phase of life or you are enduring a trial that seems pointless.  Know that God works all things for our good and that there is a purpose life’s hardships (Romans 8:28-29).   When you have a relationship with Him, what we  perceive as an inconvenience is often his active role in protecting us and growing us to be more like Him.  When we commit to follow Him, God protects us from less than his best.  May our lives be overflowing with the “inconvenience” of God’s protection.

What are the ways God has protected you and how is He protecting you even now from greater hardships?

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When the Fear of Failure Distracts You From God’s Call

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My only child starts Kindergarten in a couple short months.  Excited to start this new adventure, she will be spending most of her day with new friends, a new classroom and a new teacher.  As I will miss her being home during the day, I know this will be a good transition for her – it’s what she needs.   Although, it will be hard to let go of her still small hand on that first day, I realize that this is a new phase of life for me as well.  Having to let go of her hand means that, for a least part of my day, I get my hand back.

To be honest, that terrifies me.  For the last 5 years, I have been Morgan’s mom, caretaker and advocate (aka Mama Bear), during some very rough times.   I will always assume those roles even when she is grown, although they might look a little different.

People are always quick to ask how I will spend “all my free time”.  One person asked if I had thought about “getting a job in the real world”.   As much as I’d like to share more about these fun interactions, I digress.

As I have prayed about how to spend my time when she starts school, I have been encouraged by sweet friends but most of all have prayed that God would show me where He wants to use me.    In true Karin fashion, I’d love for him to give me a detailed agenda, flowchart and even a promotional video about what the future holds.  That’s not what I’m getting though.  As I pray about it, God keeps answering with two words: “Just write”.    I ask Him why I am writing or what it will lead to, and his response is always the same:  “Just write.”  I’ve even “informed” God (the Creator of the UNIVERSE) that this could be a very wasteful use of my time but again He gently, mercifully tells me the same… “just write.”

In Genesis 12, Abraham was confronted with a similar command but on a much grander scale.  Abraham and his family, lead by his father Terah,  were initially from Ur, an idolatrous country, and later settled in Haran on the way to Canaan. Haran was known as a city of pagan worship and it was there God commended Abraham, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.  And I will make of you a great name and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.”

Abraham was comfortable in Haran.  By that point, he had an established way of life, financial stability and his family was there.  I know multiple questions would have swirled through my mind: “Where is this place you want me to go?, How will I know its “the” place?, Will it take a long time?, Will others be cooperative on the way there?”  I can’t imagine Abraham’s friends would have thought his new monotheistic calling would have brought him much “success”.  God didn’t tell Abraham what land or its location, but God tells Abraham to “go” and he follows with an implicit faith.

John Wayne once said, “Courage is being scared to death…and saddling up anyway.”  I’m sure Abraham had fears as it would have been so much easier to conform to his comfortable status-quo.  By following God’s command he had to swim against the stream in every area of his life.   Yet, He responded by faith and immediately left everything to follow God’s plan.

Abraham’s departure started a chain of reactions, causing Abraham to be known as the Father of the Faithful, not Terah.  If Abraham would get out of Ur, God promised his calling had a purpose: his obedience would bring great blessing.   Abraham’s departure was an unparalleled act of faith.  What others perceived of his life falling apart, was actually God’s plans falling into place.

Staying in Haran would mean following in his earthly father’s footsteps – never making it to Haran and dying there while serving false gods.  His heavenly Father’s plan was full of promise and blessings.  If we follow God, He will not fail to deliver on His promises.

Sometimes God puts an insanely uncomfortable calling in the lives of His children.  We can try to avoid it at all costs, but the calling is always there.   At times, I have put so much energy in trying to postpone or sidestep his calling to write.  It would have  been so much easier to surrender to His will in the first place.   My questions are similar to those Abraham might have had: “Where are you taking me?  Why are we headed there?  Will others support me?”

Most often, my fear of failure is my greatest obstacle in trusting God. The thick irony is that the only way to avoid true failure in life is to trust God.  Trusting God means walking out in faith as only a real risk tests the quality of a belief.

Often times the calling God puts on our hearts is so huge that we are in disbelief.  That’s about the time God’s bread crumbs show up.  God’s bread crumbs are those little hints and nudges of encouragement left by the Holy Spirit that make one realize “Maybe this really is God’s calling for me.”  They are those random instances where God thrusts you in a situation you thought you couldn’t handle.  Soon, you realize He never intended you to.  He simply wants you to take that step in faith and let Him take care of the rest…

 

Is there an area of your life where you fear failure?  Is this possibly a call God has put on your heart?  What is your first step of faith in answering this call?

 

 

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