I shuffled through the items on the desk, trying to determine which ones to set aside for longer-term storage and which would be better suited to keep available on the living room shelf.

My toddler puttered around my feet with her toy doll. “I’m helping Emi walk.”

“I see that. Just like how Auntie was helping your cousin walk when we saw them last week.”

I picked up a roll of tape. That should stay readily available. I scanned the shelf and found a spot for it.

“Mama, I’m going there.”

I stepped out of the way so my toddler could walk past.

I reached for a stack of unused notebooks. My current notebook still had space so I wouldn’t need these for a while. I stashed them in a box to be put into storage, then jotted them down on the list of contents on the box.

“Uh oh…”

I glanced down at my toddler. She was trying to move past my big packing box.

Her little voice piped up again, “Move please.”

Normally the space would be empty, but since I was actively working on this box, I didn’t want to move it. Beside the box was a clear space, plenty wide enough for her and her doll to walk through.

“I’m using this box right now, but you can go around it.”

My toddler pushed her shoulder against the box. “Move please!”

“I will move it when I’m done with it.”

“Mama, move please!”

I crouched down beside her and pointed, “Look, there is lots of room to go around the box. You don’t have to be stuck here.”

She started to pout as she pushed against the heavy box again. “Move please!”

I tried to meet her gaze. “Mommy is busy using this box. I will move it when I am done. You can go around it. See, I’ll show you.”

Straightening, I stepped around the box through the clear area.

My toddler pouted and pushed against the box with two hands. “Move please!”

With a sigh, I returned to my organizing. If I couldn’t explain to her that she could go around the box, maybe she would figure it out on her own.

She continued pushing against the box as her frustration mounted. She began to cry.

After a time, I picked her up and walked around the box with her.

“See, you can go around.”

She wasn’t comforted in the least.

I carried her to the couch and picked up a book. Maybe a complete change of activity would help take her mind off that box.

This encounter with my toddler was not the first of its kind, and surely won’t be the last. Her stubborn determination that she must go exactly in the one place she cannot go, is nearly impossible to distract her from. Once she has decided she wants to go somewhere, her mind is set on it.

After multiple such interactions, I began to wonder if I am ever like that.

In my walk with God, are there times that I stubbornly try to go somewhere or do something that He has said no to?

When God closes a door, or says wait, do I push forward anyways?

There are many times in the Bible when God told His people to wait. Sometimes they obeyed, but other times they pushed forward stubbornly and paid the consequences.

I think of Saul and the sacrifice (1 Samuel 13), and the disciples waiting for Pentecost (Luke 24:49 & Acts 1-2). The nation of Israel’s first attempt to enter the Promised Land also comes to mind. At first, they said no when God said go, but then they tried to force their way in when God said no (Deuteronomy 1:19-46).

Can you think of other examples in the Bible?

So what do we do when we find a heavy box where we want to walk? The apostle Paul set a good example for us.

“Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times that it would leave me. But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.’

Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and in difficulties, for the sake of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  2 Corinthians 12:8-10 CSB

What did Paul do when he came to an unwanted roadblock? He took the matter straight to God. That is the critical first step.

After praying about it a few times, Paul understood God’s answer to be “no”.

Did Paul throw himself on the floor in a toddler temper tantrum?

No. Paul accepted God’s answer, and turned his attention away from that box onto God. Instead of growing persistently angry, he chose to follow the path God had opened and to live his life for God’s glory rather than Paul’s own desires.

Surely there were days that it felt impossible for Paul to have this attitude of setting his focus on God rather than on his own desires. Thankfully, he didn’t have to do it on his own. God is a God of mercy and a God who willingly helps His children.

Next time I stumble across a box in my path, may I bring it straight to God in prayer. Then, if He says “no” or “wait”, may I move on following His lead and setting my focus on Him so that my life may be for His glory, not my own. And on those days, when I am stuck and it seems impossible, may I cry out to God to help me shift my eyes onto Jesus. God will help me.

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