After leaving a bright and bubbly message on the church staff member’s answering machine, I waited, knowing that there might be some hoops I would have to jump through in order to utilize the atrium for displaying my artwork. Because hundreds of people pass through that section on Sundays and Wednesdays, it’s the ideal place to display any type of church-related promotion. When it comes to selling anything, it gets a little sketchy. (The church is not meant to be a place to make personal profit, after all.)
I knew it would be a stretch, but since other mission-related silent auctions had successfully taken place (in other areas, I mentally noted), I thought there might be a minute possibility they would allow me to hold a silent auction there to support my mission trip. That’s what I prayed for.
God said no. And that sucked. I had $8000 I needed to raise with 0% met and I only had a month to do it.
Why is it good when God says no? Reason #1: Clarity
Now, since I’m an artist, wouldn’t a silent auction be the perfect way to raise money for a cause? Exactly. It was the most-suggested idea among everyone I solicited ideas from. So when affirming to myself and others that I believed I would be fully funded by the end of March, the silent auction had been the foolproof idea in the back of my mind.
As I tried with minimal success not to take the rejection personally, I realized that I had been relying on that single idea far too much. With the major player out of the picture, I had to admit that I had secretly been relying a little bit more on myself than on God.
I think God said no to wake me up a bit, I said to myself, swallowing hard. It’s a lot harder to have faith when your plans have been wrecked.
Ah, but never fear! I had a Plan B.
Every year, the youth group goes on two mission trips, so they hold a missions lunch and silent auction to raise funds. I felt awkward about trying to include my artwork in their silent auction for my trip, so I decided to donate one piece to their trip and one to mine.
I had far less confidence in this idea because of how brilliantly Plan A had gone. Regardless, I typed up an email and sent it to the youth ministry assistant. She forwarded it to the youth minister and told me to expect a response soon. This time, I prayed for God’s will to be done. Either way, I decided, I would donate one piece of artwork to the youth group’s fundraiser.
Imagine my surprise when the youth minister allowed me to include one to support my trip as well!
This is such a blessing, I thought. Maybe I can at least get a few hundred towards my trip and a few hundred towards theirs. That’ll help us all out.
I prayed a lot in the time between then and the auction, settling on $200 as the starting bid because I spent hours on them, and waited, praying for them to sell for much higher than that. After the sermon, I went back to look at how they were doing.
I went back again after the auction ended, and was met with the same. So I took them home, emotions swirling inside my silence.
God said no. Again.
Reason #2: It Teaches Us Dependence
You see, I had less than four days to pay the language school. God had blessed me that Sunday, and a little earlier in the week prior, with a few contributions, but I still needed over $700 just to make that payment, and I was out of tangible options.
People’s lives had become chaos around me. No one was able to meet to discuss ideas. Death in families, major illnesses, kids’ sports, and the busy day-to-day meant availability was nil, and I sincerely started to feel like I was alone in the center of a cyclone.
There have been few times in my life when I have truly cried out to God. This was one of those times.
I knew it would be possible (barely) to borrow the money from my parents and pay them back later, but I didn’t want to rely on that. I wanted to trust God instead of myself. Increase my faith, I prayed. I need a miracle. I literally need a miracle. Please give me a miracle.
I knew He would provide. He had to. There was no other way.
The next day, Monday, I emailed the elder who was coaching me through this whole mission process, affirming my belief in God’s provision and asking for advice. He emailed me back saying that someone had approached him Sunday asking specifically about helping with missions, and to contact him.
Reason #3: Great is Better than Good
I had no idea what to expect, and I honestly think that was for the best. I left it entirely up to God. I reached out with an email, and received a call on Tuesday. By that evening, I was shocked and humbled by God’s grace–He provided the full amount, hours before I needed it.
That, my friend, was a miracle.
I felt a lot like Peter did after seeing the enormous amount of fish he and his partners caught. They had fished all night without catching anything, but when Jesus told him to let the nets down, he did. And they ended up so full that they started to break.
Peter fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” (see Luke 5:1-11)
Wow. Yeah, I can agree with the sentiment, bro. I can’t begin to describe how unworthy I am of such a blessing. Yet God heard me, and even before I asked, He had blessed someone else, and put it on their heart to share their blessing. Just wow.
My mission was fully funded, and in what an awesome way! Hallelujah!
When God says no, we often can’t see the benefit until much later.
What I want to say is that although we may have good ideas that God can use, God’s plans for us usually include waaaay better ideas, including the shock-and-awe kind. Would I have been as grateful if my auction ideas had worked out? I think so. But I would have given myself a gold star for the idea, and in a sense have credit in raising funds “myself”.
But this way, God gets all the credit. I only have the blessing of sharing the story!! It serves as a powerful reminder to me of who is in charge and who truly provides. Dear God, let me not wander along my own path, as though in my own “wisdom” I know the best course, but to listen to you and obey.
It would have been “good” if financial support had trickled into the stream of cash flow, but God’s tidal wave bowled me over with awe and immense gratitude. He gave me “great”.
What have you learned from God saying “no” to your plans?