WHERE TO GO WHEN GOD SAYS “NO!”
For months, the large church had interviewed me and every indication was I would be their next pastor. I was young and eager to take the reigns of leadership of the well known congregation in a rapidly growing city. Then, after all those meetings and all those months, the chairman awkwardly and nervously dropped the bomb. They had decided to go with an older, more experienced pastor instead. His assurances that the committee had struggled with the decision did little to relieve my disappointment. In my heart I was “already there.” But that door closed suddenly, and that dream died painfully. Almost 25 years have passed since then, but I still remember how deflated I felt when I hung up the phone.
Where should we turn when dreams die? Where can we go when disappointment is heavier than gravity? I headed to South Georgia. In a small back bed room of their impressive country home, decorated with Victorian antiques, handmade Southern quilts, well worn leather bibles, and beautiful, heartwarming Christian books and artwork, a wealthy, godly, retired couple left me alone with my thoughts and prayers. I took nothing with me but a book on prayer, a prayer journal, and my bible. I barely left the back wing of their home for 3 days while I re-calibrated my spiritual life, and refocused on the Lord. It was an oasis!
What have you done when life has leveled you with the frosty chill of a dying dream? We can’t always retreat for days when we face discouragement and disappointment, but when the pain is deep, the recovery better be more than equal to the wound! When relationships you built your hopes around are ending, when love you thought was made in Heaven crashes to the earth, when the career path you spent a lifetime training for becomes an unexpected dead end, when the hospital bed of a loved one is the last visual memory you will ever have of them, what can you do? Where will you turn? And how much more complex is our grief if in some cases we realize what we lost was never God’s plan for us in the first place? In the Christian life, God often closes doors that cannot be reopened!
King David was a big dreamer and a blessed man! He intended to build God a magnificent Temple in Jerusalem. He dreamed about that building project night and day. He imagined the architecture and planned to gather the building materials . It was the great passion of his life. Even his spiritual advisor recommended David build the great house of prayer. What could possibly be wrong with that?
Then God said “No!” (1 Samuel 7:4-12). David’s dream of building the House of Prayer was rejected by God Himself. What David did next should provide a blueprint for our own lives when God answers “No.”
“Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and said, ‘Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?’ “ (2 Samuel 7:18 ESV) David, confronted with the fact that God had other plans, went privately into the place of prayer and sat in the presence of the Lord! Can you see him there alone in the dim light with his head bowed and his hands lifted lightly in worship? He’s humble and quiet as he sits praying and praising God.
That’s the only place your hope can be renewed when your dreams die. When God says “no” to our ambitions, when the feelings of loss are almost overwhelming, a prayer room in the presence of God is the only place I know where hope can come alive again.
Even if God says “no” to our dreams, we can still say “yes” to God! And when we do, the presence of God becomes far more important to us than anything we thought we lost.