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The Power of “Yes”

There is a word—or at least a series of decisions—that determine to a very great extent the story of our lives. In fact, if we fail to use this word and make those decisions, we will never experience the fullness of God’s plans for us.

The word is “Yes.”

One of the most remarkable freedoms God gives each of us is the freedom to say “No.” There are times, of course, when saying “no” is the right decision. It’s important to say “no” to things that would be harmful to us.

But God also gives us the freedom to say “no” to things that are beautiful: healing, freedom, transformation. We can say “no” to joy and laughter…to love and forgiveness…to life itself…. life here and now, and life eternal. 

God never forces us to say “Yes” to Him. If He did, as C. S. Lewis observed, we would simply be robots…incapable of the real, interactive relationships He wants to have with us. It’s as if we each have a tiny switch in our hearts that only we can control. It’s a switch with just three settings: No…Maybe…and YES.

Does God love me? It’s up to us to decide if we want that switch set on No… Maybe…or YES.

Do I believe God can use me to contribute in some unique and significant way to His purposes in the world? Again, it’s up to us to decide where to set that switch. And when we sense God inviting us to follow Him—in ways large or small—will we respond with obedience, even when we don’t know where He’s leading or what the outcome will be?

Only we can decide.

As I’ve said, how we set that tiny switch in our hearts determines to a very great extent the story of our lives.

I believe the most important “YES” any of us will ever say is “YES” to God’s unconditional, undeserved, and unrelenting LOVE. Most if not all of us believe in the principle that God loves us. But knowing this in our hearts is something altogether different. That’s because we’ve all been programmed to believe that love is something we have to earn—a kind of reward for good behavior.

But God’s love has no conditions or prerequisites. And it’s hard for most of us to believe that that kind of love even exists, let alone receive that kind of love. When we say “YES” in our hearts to the free gift of God’s love, though, it changes everything. Because only GOD can meet the deepest needs of the human heart. And when we say “YES” to His love, we not only find ourselves set free from all our vain attempts to meet our own deepest needs, but freer than ever before to reach outside ourselves to love and bless others.

The second great “YES” is a “YES” to God’s calling on our lives…”YES” to believing that GOD has a unique and specific plan for us…that He designed each of us to make a significant contribution to His purposes in the world.

As you may know, Forward Edge’s theme verse is Ephesians 2:10—“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.” It’s a truth that applies to every human being, regardless of their circumstances.

But pursuing God’s plan—doing the good works He’s prepared in advance for us to do—requires more than a single “YES.” It requires saying “YES” again and again to an ever-unfolding series of opportunities to join God in what He’s doing in the world around us. And when we choose to say “YES” to these opportunities, the world is changed for the better…and we’re changed for the better, too.

I recently saw a video about a Coast Guardsman who 10 years after Hurricane Katrina was reunited with the young girl he had rescued from a rooftop in New Orleans. They were both guests on a TV talk show. Projected on a screen behind them was a picture of the girl—then just a toddler—smiling and hugging the Coast Guardsman at the moment of her rescue.

At one point in the video, the girl, now in her late teens, was asked how she felt. Clearly overwhelmed at being on television, she simply said, “I feel good.” The Coast Guardsman was then asked: “What’s going through your mind right now?” He then turned toward the girl and said: “If I could explain to you how important your hug was…that small gesture. It helped me through bad days and dark days,” he said, choking back tears. “I mean you have a beautiful smile and it stuck with me, and it’s helped me, and it’s meant a lot to me. So, I’m indebted to you. You rescued me more than I rescued you.”  

That’s how it works. When we’re willing to step out and lend a helping hand, we end up getting just as blessed—even more blessed—than the person we reached out to help. Those of you who’ve seen the smiles of the girls at Villa Esperanza in Nicaragua or the warmth in the eyes of a grateful disaster survivor in Haiti or Louisiana know exactly what I’m talking about. Jesus was, of course, right when he said: “It’s more blessed to give than it is to receive.”

But providing opportunities for short-term missionaries to hear and respond to God’s call—and be blessed in the process—is just a part of God’s mission through Forward Edge. The other perhaps more important part is our work to help thousands of children and adults in our programs around the world discover their true worth and pursue God’s extraordinary purpose for their lives. It’s our desire to see them say “Yes” to God’s love…to the good works He’s prepared in advance for them to do.

One final thought.

Most of the time saying “Yes” to God doesn’t involve anything dramatic. More often than not, it’s just small, day-to-day decisions…decisions to reach outside ourselves to love or encourage someone…decisions that have the power to lift us out of our little stories into God’s Big Story.

Many years ago, when I was in the middle of a difficult season in my life, I had the opportunity to be prayed for by some wise and seasoned Christ followers. During the course of their prayers, one of them spoke two words to me that have had a profound impact on my life ever since. The words were: “Love first.”

At first, I didn’t understand what was being said to me. What does “love first” mean? Then I realized that God was inviting me…challenging me…to overcome my fear of rejection and initiate loving others—not caring if my love was well received or reciprocated. To love FIRST.    

It’s the same challenge—the same opportunity—I find myself facing, and I believe we all face, every day of our lives: in our marriages…with our children…with those we bump into at the grocery store or find ourselves sitting next to on an airplane or bus, even those we sit next to at church. Love first.

May we all keep saying “Yes” to God, however large or small the opportunities He sets before us may be. And may we all continue to be blessed as we keep reaching outside ourselves to love and bless others.

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  • location

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  • 9 yrs. old

    09-09-2012

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