A Redesigned Life: what God is doing when He says 'no'

(Photo: Unsplash/Arnel Hasanovic)

All of us are living a life we did not design, but one that God is redesigning for us. Like a human interior designer or artist uses a set of design principles to help them create, God uses his own set of codes to create a couture life for each of us. Recognizing what these are is key to uncovering the purposes of God when life doesn't go as planned.

In her new book, A Redesigned Life, author Tracy Steel considers six principles of design and how God also uses the principles of movement, emphasis, pattern, contrast, balance, and space to redesign our lives. Each of these principles enable us to uncover something spectacular about the purposes of our creative God. The following excerpt from her new book focuses on the principle of emphasis and how it helps us to see the no's of God differently: 

I love simple and elegant design. We've all seen pictures of a living room with its crisp white walls and cream sofa. Imagine a coffee table in the middle of that living room. On top of the table sits a glass vase filled with a bouquet of orange tulips or powder blue hydrangeas. Or perhaps there is a turquoise-and-white paisley pattern rug under the coffee table. Maybe there is a large abstract oil painting hanging on the wall composed of green, blue, and purple horizontal stripes. Our eyes are drawn to the flowers, to the rug, or to the oil painting because of the pop of color they provide among all the white. This is the essence of emphasis as a design principle. Emphasis makes us stop, helping us focus. A designer uses shapes, texture, or color to create emphasis.

Imagine the same living room but now everything in it is red—from the couch to the walls to the flowers to the rug. I don't want to linger or enjoy the space because it's overwhelming and nothing grabs my attention. There's too much red. Nothing is emphasized.

In the same way, our world is pressing us to be like an all-red room. We must be all things to all people all the time, it seems. Good at everything. Involved in everything. Know everyone. I'm tired of the pressure, of all the striving, competition, and backbiting. Give me some white space, please. I need God to give me emphasis and so do you.

God is not asking us to be all things to all people all the time. He's the one who is capable of doing and being this. He's the one who is all-knowing. God alone is our ever-present help and shield. We're only to add our little pop of color into the corner of the world in which he places us. We do this through the emphasis that God has designed for each of us. The beautiful thing is, all our emphases or callings will look different. However different they may be, our little pops of color should cause others to rest the eyes of their hearts and minds upon God. And if we are doing too many things, we will be way too red or stressed out and no one will want to linger around us either.

But what if we really feel like we found our calling or purpose, and then it doesn't happen? Sometimes the emphasis we wish for or desire in our hearts will not come to pass because God will say no and not allow it to happen. We may assume this is because God is not good or fair. Or maybe we believe we are not good enough for God to use us, or that God doesn't care about the dreams or passions that we feel inside us. But this isn't true.

Look at God's no from a different perspective. God, because he is good and is in the process of sanctifying us, could be saying no to our good desires simply because they are not in line with the emphasis he has designed for our overall life. And God's no enables our pop of color to be a beneficial and beautiful one. Here it is in a nutshell:

God's no = not our emphasis.

God's no = the revealing of his emphasis for us.

God's no = his protection, preventing us from becoming an all-red room.

And when God says no, that means we will have the opportunity to say yes to something that he has decided is better for us, because in his providence he knows and has already designed what is to come. So if you ever thought that by now you'd be living in the city or home of your dreams and making one million dollars and, well . . . you aren't, it's okay to admit your disappointment or feelings of failure to yourself and to your God. Ask him to heal you of those feelings. Realize that you're beautifully gifted to do something else with your life and that God is redesigning you so you can bless the lives of others and bring glory to him.

Don't be all things, just be you-things.

Your emphasis matters in God's eyes. May this encourage you whenever your life doesn't go as planned.

To hear more of Tracy's musings, visit her online home and subscribe at www.tracymsteel.com. "A Redesigned Life" is now available for purchase at various online retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Baker Publishing Group, and Christian Book Distributors.