A friend told me recently that she had prayed about whether this one one guy - you know, the awesome, handsome one that leads worship and everything - whether the Lord wanted to see something happen between the two of them.
And, despite it breaking her heart, my friend felt like the Lord was saying, “No.”
That leads us to this difficult question: why on earth would God say no to that?!
Let me tell you a story.
When I was little, there was this group called “The Publisher’s Clearinghouse” that ran a sweepstakes-by-mail where they claimed you could win millions of dollars, as a come-on to get you to buy magazine subscriptions.
I must have been 5 or 6, and one of their signature envelopes showed up in our mailbox, emblazoned with the words, “You may have already won Ten Million Dollars!!”
I saw that envelope, grabbed it, and sprinted into the house, shouting, “Daddy! Daddy! We won Ten Bajillion Dollars!!!”
I was so excited. This was an amazing revelation!
My Dad smiled, took the envelope, and slowly explained that, sometimes, things look one way, when they’re really another. Sometimes what looks like the best of financial news is just a con to sell you a year of Good Housekeeping. And sometimes people that seem dreamy are anything but.
As I grew up, it took me a long time to realize that, if my dream girl was sitting right next to me, I might not realize it. What I was looking for, and what would actually be good for me, were, for a long time, two very different things.
Earlier tonight, I was having dinner with a friend, and there was a waitress circulating through the restaurant, turning the heads of nearly every guy in the room. As a married man with an amazing wife, I just chuckled.
Part of my job as a missionary is having the ability to read body language and nonverbal cues. Now, for all the single guys in the restaurant, this young lady was a comely, attractive gal that they couldn’t wait to get to know better. But, with a little bit of perspective, I could look at the way she carried herself and know this was a person with deep-seated insecurities, who would drive a guy crazy (and not in a good way).
If those guys in the restaurant had asked me: “Is this a good idea”, I would have said no.
And that brings us back to God. Often times, when God tells us, “No, child, that is not a good idea,” it’s precisely because he can see things that we can’t.
This knowledge doesn’t make that moment less disappointing, but it does suggest a strategy to deal with it: asking the Lord for wisdom, to see things from his perspective.
See, God wants to give us good gifts, including relationally, but he wants to give us the gifts that are right for us. It takes real wisdom to begin to have a sense of what good-for-you would look like, but here’s just an example…
Perhaps the dreamy worship leader is sincere and passionate, but, when it comes down to making hard choices to sacrifice for the Kingdom, he’s seriously lacking in courage. Well, now, for my hardcore sisters in Christ, a man without courage shouldn’t be a consideration. They’re prepared to follow where Jesus leads, and they deserve a man who can live that out!
Well, then, in this example, we’d need wisdom from the Lord on, “How do I find a man who’s courageous?” And we might find the Lord suggesting that we look in unlikely places, like the volunteers at the jailhouse, and the staff at the homeless shelter. Maybe we’re looking for a guy that makes the nice, sincere people at church very slightly uncomfortable. Cause maybe that’s a good sign that he’s willing to make harder choices - and be more courageous - than most.
And, maybe, as we get wisdom from the Lord on what we’re looking for, and we track down that kinda guy, and we go back to the Lord, and ask, “Is this a good idea”, maybe, just maybe, we hear our Father say, “It’s the exact right idea.”