They are written in every baby book and shared with close friends. Those never-forgotten first words. In my children’s (unfinished) baby books, I too recorded their first words. Each child’s were distinct and, in reflection, true to their unique personalities.
- Austin’s first word was mommy.
- Jon’s first words, after waiting three years for him to speak, were I love you.
- My oldest child, Ashley, made her distinct mark on the universe, and it all began with the word NO!
I heard no so often those first couple of years, I decided to write a poem about it. Clearly, her bent was to carve her own road and walk her own path—and she hasn’t diverted from it. No is part of her development.
Here’s what I wrote to Ashley when she was two.
NO! I refuse to . . .
NO! I don’t choose to . . .
And NO, NO, NO, you can’t change my mind.
You’ve been mistaken
Maybe are waiting
For a yes to come from my throat.
So please remember,
From January to December,
The first word will always be NO!
You could tease me,
You could eat me,
From my head right down to my toes.
But inside your belly, loudly and yelly,
And stinky and swelly,
NO! echoes from here to New Delhi.
You could sock me
Feed me some broccoli,
Tickle me ’til I turned blue;
Despite all the giggles and sniggles and wiggles and jiggles,
My NO! will be stated to you!
So let me be me, and soon you’ll see,
Despite my fighting attempts
God is stronger,
And knows what is honorable,
My first words may become
Why do I share this with you? Because we all have NOs! in our vocabulary. Often, there is much wisdom in learning to say no. We have to establish who we are, what we choose, and how we live our lives. And when our no is really no then everyone knows that our yes is really yes.
God . . . Yes or No?
NOs are important and good. We teach our children to say no to harmful things—to drinking, to drugs, and to premarital sex. But saying no to God when we should say yes is not wise.
For a moment, consider Mary, Jesus’s mother. When the angel told her that her virgin womb would carry the Messiah, she could have fought with God and yelled: “No, no, no . . . I don’t want this. I don’t like this.” But what did she say? Luke 1:38 tells us:
“I am the Lord’s servant. . . . May your word to me be fulfilled” (NIV).
I am in awe of Mary’s response. She could have chosen to argue, to doubt, and to be angry with God because the path was going to be filled with pain. Instead, she surrendered her heart to God, and she accepted with humility His direction for her life.
Maybe you’re fighting God because you want Him to agree with your plans. Maybe He has allowed pain so deep, a path so hard, and an end so mysterious you’ve chosen to have it out with Him. I’ve been there. I understand the fighter’s stance. But it leads to a hardened heart and a distracted mind.
Allow Mary’s words to God to be your words to Him, too, revealing a heart that is humbled, surrendered, and trusting in what God has planned. Mary didn’t escape pain, but she was God’s servant. This is the Christian’s calling as well. After all, Jesus came from her womb.
I wonder what will come from your life if you simply say to God, “I am Your servant. May it be as You have said”?
Let Me Hear from You
Acceptance of life’s circumstances is really the first step to opening our hearts and minds about living the Christian life. Christ promises abundance but requires our acceptance of what He has allowed. We all struggle with NO! responses, yet it’s what we do with those responses that makes all the difference. Let’s talk about that in our comments section below.
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Insight for Living Resources
- A Life Well Lived: Discover the Rewards of an Obedient Heart by Charles R. Swindoll, DVD and Bible Companion set
- Absolute Essentials by Charles R. Swindoll, CD series of 4 CDs
- Living on the Ragged Edge: Coming to Terms with Reality by Charles R. Swindoll and Insight for Living Ministries, CD series of 24 CDs plus bonus audio CD and 288-page Bible Companion