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The Divine No

Dear Friends,

I have many articles and recommended readings that come across my desk on almost a daily basis. Some of them are incredible, some of them are ok and some of them, to put it nicely, don’t fit the previous two categories.

Today I am sharing with you an article that was given to me 16 years ago by a dear friend when I was struggling with having boundaries in busyness. Many of us struggle with having too much on our plates. This article helped shape the way I felt and responded when a “God” opportunity presented itself. I hope it will be a blessing to you as well.

God Bless, Kyle


by Alice Fryling

If I were a prophet, in the Old Testament tradition, I would put on my long robes, gather a crowd, and call out, “God says, ‘No!’”  I would lean over and point my finger at the distraught pastor who cannot bear the burdens of her congregation, and I would say, “Let go.”  I would look at the harried mother hurrying from the office to the day care center to a PTA meeting, and I would say, “Don’t go!”  And I would grab the tired executive who was all week on a trip, came home to kiss the children, and is now on his way to the church baseball league, and I would put my face close to his and say, “Slow down!”

Indeed, there are prophets in our day who are saying just that.  Richard Foster in Freedom of Simplicity calls Christians to a life of simply doing what God wants, rather than being pushed and pulled by inward and outward demands.  He quotes Thomas Kelly, “We have seen and known some people who seem to have found (a) deep center of Living, where the fretful calls of life are integrated, where no, as well as yes, can be said with confidence.”  Foster describes that confidence as simplicity.  It could also be a more difficult act of obedience than saying yes.

When I say no to a good idea for the sake of a better idea or activity, I am acknowledging that I am a creature rather than a creator.  I cannot do everything that comes before me.  Even good ideas, if they are not the will of God for me, can become the vehicles of pride, sin, fatigue, and depression.

Rather than take responsibility for these symptoms of imbalance, we often blame God for our busy lives.  How many times have we heard, “Oh, I am just so busy (doing good deeds, Christian services, and fulfilling spiritual obligations).”  I suspect that our busyness stems from complications we have brought into our lives (our homes, social and political clubs, gardens, even some employment).  But even if we could prove our busyness is only doing “God’s work,” it is blasphemous to imply that our loving Father wants us to do more than He has equipped us to do.

Common to the lifestyles of busyness is a “bless-this mess” syndrome.  It goes like this.  I see a need.  Or I have an idea.  Or some one taps me for a project.  Without carefully evaluating the request for my time, I say yes because I like to help people, I like to be creative, and I don’t like to let people down.  Then when the Continue reading The Divine No