I can say NO to Brussel sprouts, chicken livers, and Gummy Worms. That doesn’t require much discipline or willpower.
I can say NO to robocalls and any calls that CallerID identifies as “Unknown.”
I can say NO to cutting the grass in the 98 degree sauna-like heat of a Georgia summer. I don’t mind work and a little sweat, but heatstroke is something I prefer to avoid.
Yes, some things are easy to say no to.
However, there are some things I find impossible to resist — things I cannot say NO to.
I can’t say NO to chocolate chip cookies. Or key lime pie. I prefer to see them as two of life’s simple pleasures. One is the crunchy, chewy essence of smooth sweetness that offers you a generational time-travel memory tour with every bite. The other possesses a tangy, creamy delightfulness that causes your taste buds to do a happy dance with each mouthful. How do you say NO to that?
I can’t say NO to my grandchildren. “Poppy, will you read me a story?” “Poppy, will you play with me?” “Do that again, Poppy,” says a three-year-old grandson after having been playfully tossed in the air. I don’t know if it’s the adoring eyes, the youthful exuberance, or the complete trust that a grand has in me. Regardless, I find it impossible to say NO to my grandchildren. And I always seem to be baking chocolate chip cookies when they come for a visit.
I can’t say NO to the latest book from my favorite authors. If John Grisham, Francine Rivers, Adam Makos, Erik Larson, Laura Hillenbrand, Max Lucado, Mark Rutland, or David McCullough write it, I’ll buy it and read it. Need more evidence? The late Louis Lamour is my favorite writer of the Western genre; I have all 100 plus books he wrote. A day without reading wouldn’t kill me, but why risk it?
I can’t say NO to watching old movies. By old, I mean the classics from the 1930s and 1940s. Most films today rely too much on gratuitous violence and sex, and too little on plot and dialogue. I can say NO to mindless, tasteless eye candy that appeals to the basest of the senses. I cannot say NO to that which is skillfully made, well-acted, and engages the heart and the mind. I’ll take reruns of Casablanca over any of today’s premieres.
Years ago, I also realized that I could no longer say NO to God. The Hound of Heaven was relentless. When I finally stopped and listened, I heard His still small voice whisper an invitation to my soul — an offer of undeserved grace, a merciful embrace, and a life abundant in both. I knew resistance was futile. I can never say NO to God’s presence in my life. Saying NO is spiritual suicide. When I walk with Him, I feel alive. Without Him, I feel like the walking dead.
Life is full of choices; daily, hourly, Yes’s and No’s. For the discerning soul, wisdom and humility are byproducts of living long enough to experience the consequences of one’s choices. I finally realize that joy and contentment are the fruits of saying YES to the right things and saying NO to the wrong things. There is much to learn in one’s struggle to choose YES or NO.
Scripture encourages us to say YES to excellence and beauty.
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8
Makes me wonder though…are chocolate chip cookies and key lime pie really two of life’s simple pleasures or deceptively sweet temptations in disguise. Perhaps I am hearing another voice — my waistline shouting SAY NO, SAY NO TO THE COOKIES AND THE PIE!