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When the Father Says No
By Shari Weigerstorfer

Yesterday I took my daughter, and a little friend of hers, to the pool. The "friend" came up and asked if she could jump off the diving board. I said, "You can if you want to, but aren't you a little afraid?" The kid is six.

She said, "No, I'm not afraid. It's just that Mommy doesn't let me."

Upon hearing that, I informed her that jumping off the diving board would not be on the itinerary for that afternoon.

A little later she came and asked me if she could get an ice cream. Well, that was safe because her mother had sent her with money earmarked for that purpose. She bought her ice cream and came back to me and asked me to open the wrapper. I undid the wrapper and handed it back to her. She took a bite and her face lit up, "I just love these! Mama won't let me have these!" And she trotted away.

I had to laugh but it left me thinking. Why is it kids have no qualms about indulging in a "Thou Shall Not!" issued by a parent? (Fear of getting in trouble aside.) Why is it they don't take these seriously, realizing they have been given because we love them and want to protect them from harm?
After contemplation, I decided it was because kids aren't that dumb. They've watched us for years and they know that sometimes the "I said No!" is for their good. Sometimes the burner is hot, and we don't want them to get burned. But sometimes, it's for our own good. Sometimes we have our own personal agenda and say "No!" at the child's expense. What they want to do might embarrass or inconvenience us. Or maybe we're being overly cautious. They trust us and our judgment, but only so far. It's probably because of this mixed bag of reasons that children question our motives and, therefore, our decisions. Really, you can't blame them much for that.

Our parents probably did the same with us. And, just maybe, that's why we do the same with God. We don't always trust His motives for the "Thou Shall Nots." With some sins we understand that if we touch it, we will get burned. We understand that a loving God handed down that command genuinely with our good in mind. But sometimes a "No!" doesn't look so harmful, not really. We truly think we can cross the lines over into some sins and be okay. That the consequences won't be that severe, if there even are consequences, for some of those "little" sins. Maybe God had His own personal agenda in mind when He forbid some of those?

No, He didn't. God's not like us. He had us in mind. Only our good in mind.

Every one of the "Thou Shall Nots" will burn us and burn us badly should we touch them. He's not overcautious, or difficult, or selfish.

All sin carries serious consequences. Sometimes immediately, sometimes down the line in the future. But all sin leaves its mark on us and innocent others. When He says, "You're not allowed to do that!" He's desperately trying to protect us. Pure and simple.

Deuteronomy 30:19-20 "I call Heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him, for this is your life and the length of your days..." (NASB)

Dear Lord, give me trusting eyes that see a "Thou Shall Not!" as a guidepost, and not a restriction.
Shari Weigerstorfer's first memory of writing was in Junior High, when her family moved from Oregon to Southern California and she started writing to her friends back "home." Shari remembers that it filled her days and made her laugh. After a disheartening attempt at a "creative writing" class in her junior year in High School, Shari didn't write again for 20 years, until she moved to Switzerland and, once again, found herself writing back "home." Her email notes to friends and family began to contain stories, reflections, and perspectives, which led her loved ones to encourage her to venture further out of her comfort zone. The end result is found in such delightful devotionals as "When the Father Says No." If you would like to write to Shari, you can do so through the Letters page of this magazine.