One thing is certain and that is that life is very uncertain. Our lives ebb and flow with blessings, burdens and sometimes brokenness. Almost everyone will find moments to laugh and smile but there are also moments of tears and great sorrow. Relationships most often seem to cause the greatest pain in our lives. Words, spoken or unspoken, death, divorce, hate, abuse, neglect, contempt, anger, bitterness, wrath, personal attacks, and many other symptoms make up the human condition called relationships.
Sometimes a change in our comfortable life can cause us to pause and question the connection that we have with God. Where is He when we need Him the most? How could He let this happen to us? Why are we being challenged with whatever or whoever it is that is threatening to disturb our peace?
I’ve wrestled the last three years or so with what I am supposed to do with my calling, gifts and strengths. I stepped aside from full time ministry when my life was upside down and I’ve worked hard to regain my faith and a solid relationship with Christ. I’ve come to believe that whatever ministry looked like before it probably will never look like that again. I’ve also always been a believer that every follower of Christ will have a ministry and so I wrestle with the present sometimes and pray often that God will show me the way.
And then it happened. . . . the brokenness, challenges and failures of others threaten to upset the peace and comfort that I’ve become accustomed to and even cherish. Sometimes we have no choice in the matter because of people that are around us and their personal choices or the unwanted visits of disease or death that come calling.
I’ve been thinking a lot. I’ve been processing a lot. It occurs the me that there is a time to trust God with our lives and circumstances. We say that a lot but when the challenges come we are put to the test.
E. Stanley Jones’ last book was entitled The Divine Yes. He finished it after suffering a devastating stroke. When his daughter reached his bedside he told her he could not die because he had to finish one final book. Battling the ravages of the stroke including speech, walking, sight, hearing, and the use of one arm he pressed on. It wasn’t the ideal and it wasn’t anything like he had known in prior days when he preached an estimated sixty thousand sermons or penned his many books. It was a different season but God was still in it. He took the pain and the loss of so much he had enjoyed and used for God over his eighty seven years and turned his last days into not only writing about the divine yes but also living it out.
So what is this Divine yes? The answer is found in 2 Corinthians 1:19-20. Here are three different translations of these verses:
” . . . the divine ‘yes’ has at last sounded in Him, for in Him is the ‘yes’ that affirms all the promises of God. Hence it is through him that we affirm our ‘amen’ in worship, to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 1:19-20 Moffat
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 1:20 NIV
For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory. 2 Corinthians 2:20 NLT
In our life the changes will come. It may or may not be our fault but for whatever reason your life or mine becomes more than what we think we can stand it is then that the divine yes comes into play. It is in Christ that we discover all the promises of God. It is in Christ that we come to depend for the power to survive. The Divine yes is saying yes to all that is in front of you and finding God in it.
The very popular, shallow and dead wrong prosperity teaching of today would suggest that God’s will never includes suffering, heartache or challenges. The thought is that you can just believe and “give” enough to motivate God to rescue you (bless you). I don’t see it in the bible anywhere. What I find our great men and women who walked through the fire and testings and held on to their faith by finding strength in the Divine yes in which all the promises of God are fulfilled.
Adam and Eve were major failures but the found God in their brokenness because they found a way to say yes to God’s will. Able was murdered for his faith but he was blessed in his death because he was true to the Divine yes. Noah said the Divine yes to building an ark in the face of derision and mocking. Moses said yes to the Divine even when he didn’t want to and doubted his ability to answer the call. Abraham said yes to taking his son up the mountain as a sacrifice. Joseph said yes even though he spent years in exile and even in prison for things he didn’t do before he saw the fulfillment of God’s promises. It was many hard years from the time he left the pit till he arrived at the palace. Elijah the prophet said the Divine yes but wound up in the cave of despair and eventually was taken by God in a dramatic display love and respect and rescue. Daniel said the Divine yes but still had to endure a night with the lions. His three companions said the Divine yes and wound up in the fiery furnace. Do I need to recall more?
The disciples of Jesus said the Divine yes or yes to the Divine and history suggests that 11 of the 12 were martyred for their faith. The ultimate example is the Divine Yes Himself. Jesus said it and was it. Knowing the cross was ahead of Him, He interceded in the lonely garden as God but also as man and cried out, “Father if you are wiling, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done not mine.” The cup didn’t pass and He went to the cross leaving a trail for you and I to follow. “Pick up your cross and follow me,” He said.
I don’t know what you are dealing with but I know that sometimes life is not fair. Things happen that hurt us to our core. What was may never be again and it can be traumatic and life changing. Through it all . . . keep saying the Divine yes. Keep your eyes on Jesus and know that in Him all the promises of God are in tact and working for you and in you. Discouragement is a major tool of the enemy of our soul. Perseverance comes by faith in the One who said yes who sits at the right hand of the Father interceding for you and me.
Let me make this really personal. For now there is an eight week old living in our home. She is a precious life that had no choice about being born or her circumstances in life. For whatever reason she is now here and that comes with challenges and needs that need to be addressed. She is totally helpless and dependent at this stage. It’s a challenge for a 56 year old man. The bottles, the rocking, burping, diapers, and all the stuff that comes with it. As I sat and rocked her to sleep this past weekend, I thought of all the other things I could be doing with my “days off.” I thought about my age and how babies are supposed to be visitors not your responsibility. And then it happened. It was as though I felt God whisper to me, “In as much as you have done it to the least of these, you have done it to me.” It was then that I lifted up my tear stained face and worshipped my God as I held onto and loved this child. I have prayed over her and prayed for her future. I’ve held her up to God and trust that He will help her overcome her challenges in life.
You see, I’ve worried that MY talents and gifts are not being used and that somehow I may be failing God by staying on the sidelines. I honestly don’t have any ego needs to speak publicly but it is all I have known and so what else can I offer Him? Loudly and clearly I think I hear His voice in my soul. The calling is right in front of me for now. Love and care for those around me. The baby, the teenagers, and others. Pray for them earnestly that they will all grow up to love God and not be tainted by this terrible ungodly world. It’s a mission. It’s a calling. It’s huge.
I have a feeling that God calls all of us at one time or the other to respond to Him with the Divine yes as our answer. I rest in Christ. I’m a little weary but I rest in Him because I know He loves me and that He will never leave me or forsake me. I say yes to the Divine.