What If They Had Said ‘NO’?

NO on hand

Here we are – a new year. A new 365-day sequence of days, each one holding a bucketful of choices to be made. Some choices we make unconsciously. They are habits or uncompromisable preferences; the choices to brush our teeth or how we take our coffee. Other choices require more deliberate thought; what will we eat for lunch or the name we give to our newborn …. or should we really build the ark or fight against a massive army with a mere 300 men. Ok, so it’s not likely you will be asked to gather up your Facebook friends and take out the rebel army of terrorists oppressing parts of the globe at present – but what if you were?

I think when we read the stories in scripture, there are a lot of passages we take for granted and skim over because we have heard them so many times. We know how the story goes – we know the journey to the outcomes – but it is easy to forget that the people faced with the hard choices did not. These people had free will, the same as we do. They could have said ‘no’. I talked about the choice Jesus made in Battle in the Garden. He could have said ‘no’. What about the other great men and women of faith throughout biblical history? They could have said ‘no’.

Actually, a couple of them did. It didn’t go so well for them. Jonah (Jonah 1-4) got swallowed by a whale and Samson (Judges 13-16) spent his last years shackled to a millstone grinding corn, then got crushed by a falling temple.

What about the rest of them? What if they had said ‘no’? Would they have had similar stories to Jonah and Samson or would God have just asked someone else, as in the case of Saul and David? The Lord anointed Saul to be king of the Isrealites. In 1 Samuel 15, Saul became rebellious and arrogant. At that time, the Lord rejected Saul and chose David to be king.

And then there’s that – the process between the calling and the outcome. When David was anointed to be king, he did not simply step out of the pasture and into the throne room. He had years of hardships and difficulties in between. Years of training, testing and trials. Most of it not pleasant, to say the least. Would he have accepted if he had known? Do you think he ever had questions or doubts about the path he was on? What about some of the others?

What if Noah had refused to build the ark? (Genesis 5-8) Think about it – it was 120 year project. One hundred and twenty years of ridicule and persecution, accusations and condemnations.

What if Sarah had refused to bear a child in her old age? (Genesis 17 & 21)

What if Abraham had not taken Isaac to the mountain top to offer him as a sacrifice? (Genesis 22)

What if Joseph had not forgiven his brothers? (Genesis 37-45) After all, he was imprisoned and enslaved for thirteen years – who would blame him?

What if Moses had refused to confront Pharaoh? (Exodus 3) Even after all that, his disobedience in the wilderness cost him entrance into the promised land. (Numbers 20)

What if Rahab had not hidden the spies? (Joshua 2)

What if Gideon had been too afraid to go to battle? (Judges 6-7)

What if David had killed Saul in the cave? (1 Samuel 24)

What if Mary had not agreed to be pregnant out of wedlock? (Luke 1) She carried that social stigma her entire life.

These choices were hard choices and saying yes had a great price. The journeys were difficult, dangerous, going against common sense, instincts for survival, and sometimes against socially acceptable standards. These people did not know the impact of their agreement other than the promises of God. That was enough for them.

Awhile ago (as in years), I read a wonderful book by Hannah Hurnard called “Hinds Feet in High Places”. The main character, Much-Afraid, a crippled and disfigured member of the Fearlings family, has asked the Great Shepherd to take her to the High Places where she can live in the Kingdom of Love. He gladly agrees to take her there, sharing with her some of the glorious features of the High Places and promising her good health and a new name. She is eager to go. She thought her journey would be a straight shot up the side of the mountain. Alas, it is not. It is a journey of ups and downs, twists and turns, dangers and despairs, and a lot of sacrificing her will.

mountain path

This is so often the case when we agree to God’s will. Like God’s people from biblical times, and like Much-Afraid, the journey from the calling to the outcome is rarely a short one. Or a straight one. Or a comfortable one. It rarely looks like we think it should. Many times we even cry out in despair, “How will God ever glory from this?” Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. His story – His glory! Submitting to His will, to His journey, to His plan, not only gets you to the outcome but through the process on the waywith His power – for His glory. 

We are starting a new year. Resolutions are expected to be made. And broken. What if your resolution this year is to say ‘yes’ to what the Lord is asking of you? It’s really not as risky as it sounds. He has nothing but the best outcome planned for you. Romans 8:27-28 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. This is a resolution that you can actually keep as long as you are relying on Him.

I watched the classic Christmas movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” again this year. If you have never seen it (I can’t imagine there’s anyone who hasn’t), I recommend it as a must-see. At least once. We get to see what would have happened if George Bailey had said ‘no’. If he had decided to refuse existence. One person changed so many lives for the better. One person who said ‘yes’ to good and spent his life standing against evil, aka Mr. Potter in this story. Believe me, there are lives depending on your choice.

What hard choices are you faced with? Do you trust God for the outcome? Do you rely on Him during the journey?

Psalm 31:24 Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.

Romans 10:11



  1. creativekkids

    When I was reading this, I thought, Probably God chose those people for the hard tasks because He knew they would obey and say yes. I want God to choose me because He knows I will obey and say Yes. What a wonderful testimony to be someone God will choose because they will obey His leading.

    1. Trish Jackson (Post author)

      Tammy, thank you for reading. I think heaven will be full of heroes who were not celebrated on earth because their lives looked, in part or in full, on a good day just ordinary and on a bad day like dismal failures, when in the reality of eternity they were exactly in God’s will sowing seeds for the eternal harvest. I think of people like the elderly pastor of your grandmother’s church and his wife. They may be living obscure lives, but they have sown many seeds that are producing Kingdom life – for example, your blog. Surely they have had a part in forming your heart and now you are sharing with many, many people. I am grateful to those who say ‘yes’ and am determined to say ‘yes’ as well, (deep breath) no matter the difficulty. Answering His call to do His will doesn’t always make us look like a rock star and it doesn’t always look like we think. 1 Corinthians 1:27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.
      Blessings – Trish

  2. Jess Nail

    I’m so glad I got to read this, Trish! Two of the examples you used were Gideon and Sampson – two biblical characters I have been studying. Gideon was weak and afraid, but trusted God and was used mightily. Sampson had it all going for him and could have been used in greater ways, but his own selfishness got in the way. I often feel like I don’t have much that God can use, but God has used those who were otherwise weak time and time again. I just need to be ready and willing and God will do the rest!

    1. Trish Jackson (Post author)

      Hi Jess, Thank you for reading!
      Ready and willing is all he requires. He empowers and equips us with what we need to do His will. In that, the glory is His. I, too, like Gideon and Moses, find myself pointing out all the reasons I can’t do it – until I’m reminded it’s not in my strength. Just say yes and take a leap of faith …. sometimes it sure feels like a free-fall, though.
      Blessings – Trish

  3. Jenn

    Be brave and do what needs doing. Love it. Thanks for sharing at the Monday Mash-Up link up party!

    1. Trish Jackson (Post author)

      Thank you, Jenn! Thanks for hosting!

  4. Deb Wolf

    Hi Trish, I am so thankful you stumbled upon Counting My Blessings. It’s a pleasure to meet you. I agree with you completely – I want to be willing whatever my calling. Some have been hard and oh, I have preferred it if the Lord had asked someone else. But my constant prayer is to simply trust and obey. Oh, and to try to do it without complaining. :-) Many blessings to you!

    1. Trish Jackson (Post author)

      Hi Deb. I found you on Monday Mash-Up and am thankful to have found you as well. (I actually have read your links for today and am percolating on comments.)
      Yes, trust and obey – and obey and trust. I think what I really hope readers take away from this, too, is that it doesn’t always look like we think it should and it may look like we’re failing at it when we are really right on track. Failure to consider and recognize this is when we are tempted to complain. My family is on just such a journey now and I will be honest – it has challenged me to have the right attitude about it. I know that it is part of my blessing to work through this and for the Lord to use this to show me the condition of my heart and cause me to seek Him in this.
      Blessings – Trish

  5. Brittany at EquippingGodlyWomen.com

    That is a very good question! Another good one is: what are the consequences when we say no today? They might be just as big, and we never even know…

    1. Trish Jackson (Post author)

      Yes, I have often wondered how many blessings have been missed because we have said no, even in the little ‘assignments’? How many strangers we didn’t hug because we didn’t want to look silly? How many families were hungry or stranded a little longer because God had to find someone else? Not only have we missed blessings, but those who we were asked to bless missed out also, at least for a little while…. When you look at George Bailey’s life, at all the people who benefited from his many yeses ….. if any one of his yeses had been a no instead, what would the ripple effect have been? There is the well-known quote “To the world you may be one person, but to one person, you may be the world.”
      Thank you for reading, Brittany, and thank you for hosting Fellowship Friday.
      Blessings – Trish


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