The Blessing in a NO

Ever feel like you just can’t catch a break? Nothing seems to be going your way? Have you ever heard no so many times it starts to lose its meaning? Welcome to the world of writing.

In the last three years, I have heard no so many times that I have learned to laugh and look for the next open door. When I first started hearing no it was a foreign concept to me. All my life I worked hard for what I had – job, grades, academic standing – and then I put one foot into the real world, and for some reason none of my achievements carried much weight. Crazy how that works, isn’t it? But it took a series of closed doors to teach me the blessing in no.

  • Applied to grad school at Texas Tech – No
  • Applied to 11 other grad schools (About the eighth letter, I started laughing instead of crying.) – 11 No’s
  • Moved back home and applied for A LOT of jobs – A LOT of No’s
  • Wanted to move out of state – No
  • Applied for more jobs and internships – More No’s
  • Submitted my book for publication – A lot of silence (which equals a “no” in the publishing world)

Starting to get the picture? No started to lose its meaning. But the more I heard that dreaded word, the more I began to find my way. Know what happened when I stopped trying to make things happen and allowed the Lord to direct my steps? A lot of those no’s became yesses in directions I never would have explored.

  • Got an acceptance letter to Focus on the Family Institute in the same month I was rejected from Tech. The Lord changed my life. – Yes
  • Found a freelance writing position two days after my most recent job rejection. – Yes
  • Attended a writers conference and was accepted into a writing course with a mentor doing the exact same thing a graduate degree in writing would have given me for an eighth of the cost. Found Christian authors to encourage me. – Yes
  • Attended another conference and found agents and editors who are interested in my book. At least I’m on the right track. – Yes

The Lord began to open doors to all the things I had been pursuing, except He determined the direction and the timing! It turns out that I’m in pretty good company. In the Bible:

The Lord told Abraham to leave everything He knew and travel to a land He would show him.

Abraham prayed for a child, and the Lord said no until Abraham was so old it seemed impossible, and then the Lord blessed Abraham with Isaac, the promised child.

Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh to preach. He ran away but the Lord said no to Jonah’s direction. He sent a whale to swallow him and then spit him up on the beach near Nineveh. It changed that city.

Mary probably expected to go into her marriage a pristine virgin. The Lord said no to that plan. She was still a virgin, but she was shamed by her people with a child, who turned out to be the Christ child – the One who changed the world.

My no’s seem pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things. The Lord used redirection in the Bible for His glory and the good of His people. There is blessing in this dreaded word.

In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps. (Proverbs 16:9).

I follow my own way so much. But the Lord wants to tell me YES. He just wants to do it in His own time and in His own way. Just as He has been faithful in all His covenants and promises in the Bible until now, I know that He will be faithful to answer my no’s with yesses in far better ways than I could. They never look like what I thought or planned. They are always, always better.

Trust Him with your no’s. Embrace closed doors. They are blessings in disguise! He is so FAITHFUL!

9 Replies to “The Blessing in a NO”

  1. This is a very timely post, Kariss…and so true! The unanswered prayers (usually “no’s”), the closed doors, the rejection…are all an answer that can move you forward, if you don’t lose heart. I think of the Yes’s I get from publishers…they’re often on the heals of about 8 to 12 no’s. A lot of rejection goes into getting a yes. Some rejection delays an author’s career for years. Everyone says no. Well, hindsight often shows why: a spiritual issue from the author proved they weren’t ready; the great idea of a book was about 4 years before its optimum time for sales, a family issue was in the future that only God could have predicted; or I just hadn’t shaken the right bush yet. About 80% of the proposals I’ve sold over the years have had exactly one offer. That means a lot of “no,” but it also means “all it takes is one.”

  2. Kariss,
    Thank you for an inspiring post. Learning to embrace our No’s can be hard until we realize and trust that He is opening another door — One we may not expect; one which can lead to fulfilling our dreams and His plan for our lives.

  3. Well said. It’s where we put our focus. If it’s on the NO we are miserable. If it’s on God, we can say with Paul (who was in prison at the time) “I have learned in every situation to be content.” God’s in charge.

  4. This is an evergreen post– it will always be something someone somewhere at some point in time needs to hear. Keep it handy to encourage others– it blessed me. I’ll look for more of your posts and have told others about this one.

  5. Great post, Kariss! I love your perspective.

    God seems to be extremely consistent in using all of life’s circumstances to continually lead us toward following His plan…while being very resistant to jumping on-board with our plans…

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