Author Ava Pennington
Author Ava Pennington
I Don't Want To

I Don’t Want To . . .


The one word you never have to teach a toddler is “no.” And the one phrase you don’t have to teach them is “I don’t want to.”

Problem is, once these words leave our lips the first time, they continue to flow naturally for the rest of our lives.


I don’t want to!

It starts early. I don’t want to share my toys. Or go to school. Or do my homework.

And the progression continues. I don’t want to work. Or live within a budget. Or obey the speed limit. I don’t want to eat healthy foods or exercise.

Left to ourselves, our focus becomes what we want. Our comfort and convenience. Our preferences and agendas. And our rights. It’s almost impossible to get through a day without at least thinking “I don’t want to” even if we don’t say the words aloud.

The final stage in this progression? Our refusal to submit to the Sovereign King of the universe. I don’t want to be accountable to God. I don’t want to surrender to His leading. Or forgive the person who betrayed me. Or love my enemies.

And yet . . . where did we ever get the idea that we are in charge? Certainly not from the Bible. But even if the Bible had nothing to say on the subject, all we need to do is carry out the thought to its logical conclusion to see the impossibility of always getting our own way. Imagine the results if everyone did that. Chaos and confusion. Broken relationships. Loss of lives and loss of property.

Sadly, we don’t have to imagine these things. All we have to do is turn on the evening news.

Could it be that God knew best all along? Could it be that, as Pogo warned in the 1971 comic strip, “We have met the enemy and he is us”?

This leads to yet another problem. The “enemy” is indeed inside each one of us—the Bible calls this our sin nature—and we are helpless to conquer it. We can try harder, work smarter, and make countless New Year’s resolutions, only to fail sooner or later.

But God already knew that. And before time began, He planned an elaborate solution to our problem. He sent His Son to pay the penalty for our sin and He gave us His Spirit to provide the power to live differently. We no longer need to be slaves to our own bent to rebellion. Faith in Jesus Christ frees us to choose a different way: His way.

Our pursuit of freedom led to slavery.
Our submission to God leads to freedom.

Which do you want?


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  1. Melissa Henderson

    Even as adults, we say “I don’t want to…” I’m thankful God helps me through times when I am stubborn. 🙂

  2. Melinda Viergever Inman

    I want the freedom that submission to God gives. The challenge is how soon will I yield to what God has ordained or instructed, rather than continuing to struggle to get my own will to be done. Letting go and submitting to the Lord’s leading always produces the best outcome. The wiser we become, the more quickly we recognize this and yield our desires and rights to him, because our Lord can be trusted.

  3. Yvonne Morgan

    Until we had grandchildren, I had forgotten how they learn No at an early age. They also learn to tell small lies without anyone teaching them. We are truly born with a sinful nature. Thanks for reminding me to change my “no” and “I don’t want to” to yes for God.

  4. Jessica Brodie

    I know I can be stubborn and even resist what is good for me! I know I am my own worst enemy. Thank God He shows us the way.

  5. Karen Friday

    So true, Ava. One day my three-year-old granddaughter looked at me after my instructions were given to her two times and said, “Mimi, I said, ‘No!'” And we are often the same with the Lord when it comes to full surrender and obedience: “God, I said, ‘No!'”

    Yet, we know He always knew best. I love your reflection at the end:

    Our pursuit of freedom led to slavery.
    Our submission to God leads to freedom.

  6. Nancy E. Head

    We are too soon old and too late wise. Great post!

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