BY: MARY RABE
This last weekend I did something I have never done, and never really thought I would ever do: I responded to an altar call…at a church I’ve never really been to…in front of many people I’ve never met. Those who know me well are aware of how out of character that is for me! I am very, very introverted; easily overwhelmed by crowds (especially crowds of people I don’t know well); and prefer to just stay in the background as much as possible. So when the preacher called out for people to come forward if they felt that God was asking them to “say yes” to something, I was 100% certain he couldn’t be talking about me.
For one thing, I am just a “yes” kind of a gal as a general rule and didn’t think there was anything more I should say yes to. I want to enjoy life to the fullest, so I hate missing out on opportunities or fun events, and love to help others as much as I can, so my typical answer to others is a resounding “YES!”
I always thought I was also pretty consistently saying “yes” to God in my life; I was raised in a Christian home and came to salvation at a young age; I am very careful to pray over decisions and try to stay in line with what I feel God is calling me to; and this year I’m learning to “let go” of my plans and need for control and to say yes to God’s loving authority in my life. Imagine my surprise, then, when I felt that still, small voice in my heart prodding me to stand up and walk to the front of the church!
To make a long story short, I went back and forth with God for a while, arguing and pleading and making excuses about why I shouldn’t do what He had asked me to do; but ultimately, I submitted to Him and went to the front of the church to kneel down, where a precious friend prayed over me and I was able to truly submit to God. My prayer was something along the lines of, “Lord, I don’t know what all you want me to say yes to specifically, but here I am. I’ll say yes to whatever and wherever you call me to, even if that means just continuing the daily routine and challenges we’ve been having lately. I trust you, I love you, and I want to always live saying ‘yes’ to you.”
Since that memorable service, I’ve done a lot of thinking about what exactly it means to say yes to God, and I think there are 3 parts to it:
- Saying yes means doing what you feel God calling you to do.This is the most obvious part of saying yes to God. If you feel God telling you to do something, whether it’s as simple as calling a hurting friend or as intense as becoming a missionary to a foreign country, then saying yes means you do that thing. Sometimes what God asks us to do is really, really hard (like having Super Introvert go to the front of a church she hardly knows!) but refusing to do what he asks will cause us to miss out on so much. It is always worth it to move forward in obedience to what God asks you to do. Part of this is also accepting the situation and circumstances God has placed into your life (more on that in the next point…)
~“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke6:46 NIV)
- Saying yes means keeping a positive attitude and a submissive, joyful spirit in whatever God calls you to.This part of saying yes is a little bit tougher than simply doing what He says.I think it is completely possible to obey God and to go through the motions of doing what He’s called us to, but to still be screaming, “NO!” at Him in how we think and feel. God doesn’t want us to obey out of compulsion and to have a bitter, grumbling attitude as we fulfill His will in our lives, just like we don’t want our kids to do what we say with yucky, grumpy hearts. He doesn’t appreciate emotional martyrs who do whatever hard thing He’s asked but complain about it the whole time. This is definitely something I struggle with, and was convicted by at that church service. Sure, I was saying yes to God outwardly, going through the motions of living a challenging season and trying to honor Him, but inside I was nothappy! I was facing my circumstances with fear, disappointment, and even some anger, and I was definitely not trusting that God knows what He is doing. I wanted Him to change my circumstances and make things better, but He wants me to just say yes where I am, with peace and joy, and to stay open to what He has in store. This is true when He calls us to big, challenging, major things; but it is also true in just living out our daily lives. We can say yes to God every day simply by trusting that He has us exactly where He wants us and joyfully living out even the most mundane and repetitive activities of our lives (whether that’s changing the 200thdiaper of the day or answering yet another call at work with a cheerful and loving spirit).
~ “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22 ESV)
~ “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24 NIV)
- Saying yes means keeping our hands open to God, not trying to hold onto what He no longer wants us to have.I think this is the very hardest part of saying yes to God. Sometimes, God wants us to say yes to Him taking something away, and that can be very painful. Losing a job, moving away, saying goodbye to friends or family…these things hurt so much. Yet part of staying open and saying yes to God’s plans for us can sometimes mean He needs to remove something from our lives. It does us no good to cling to something He doesn’t want for us, no matter how much that thing may mean. It comes down to trusting that God loves us indescribably, He knows what is best, and if He is taking something away it is because that thing is no longer His best for us. I do know that when God takes something, He almost always replaces it with something else. Sokeeping our hands open doesn’t only mean letting Him take what He wants to; it also means leaving room for whatever betterthings He wants to place there instead.
~ “In everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under Heaven…a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 6 ASV)
~ “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:18-19a ESV)
So here I am, still in the same circumstances, still facing some challenging stuff…but everything is a little different now. I said yes to God by going up to that altar, and I’m striving to say yes every day now, not just in obeying Him, but in being trusting and joyful in it all and keeping my hands open to whatever He wants to take away or give me. I am excited to see what saying yes is going to lead to in my walk with God; care to join me?