This was one of those mornings where I could barely talk to God…I was so tired! You would think during the summer, with no real schedule for my kids, I would be well rested! But the opposite is true…we are having a great summer but I wake up dragging in the morning! I get up with my husband and make coffee and see him off to work (has NOT always been this way…that is a post for another day). Anyway, as I am half asleep and half praying I somehow have vague thoughts about Samson and Delilah! So…I turned to the book of Judges this morning but before I could start reading I backed up to read the last couple of chapters in the book of Joshua. As Joshua is speaking to the people of Israel, who are now living in the promise land, He tells them in a nutshell…God has saved you and fought for you and given you this land. Choose right now if you will serve Him. And here is the verse that touched my heart:
Joshua 24:23 (the message)
Joshua said, “Now get rid of all the foreign gods you have with you. Say an unqualified Yes to God, the God of Israel.”
For me, the “unqualified yes” is the kicker. As soon as I read that I knew He was talking to me. Here is a little “being real” scenerio…A few weeks ago I ran into the grocery store near my house for something. As I was in the check out line the young girl ringing me up was randomly telling me about how her back/neck was hurting and she must have slept wrong. I don’t really know her, maybe I recognized her from going into that store but that was it. I sensed this vague tug at my heart, or that whisper, to offer to pray for her. Yeah! And of course there is a lady behind me now in line. This isn’t the first time that has happened to me and it’s not the first time I didn’t do it! I was very friendly with her and told her I hoped she felt better as I left (which I knew was a cop-out!). I haven’t felt miserable with myself about it…I don’t think that is what God is after with me. But I have thought about it several times. And as I read that verse this morning it came to my mind right away.
An Unqualified Yes. To me, that is a yes that I am not measuring. Qualifying is a measurement. You can be “well qualified” or “under qualified.” You can measure a person by their “qualities.” So, for my heart this morning, God is asking me to be willing to give Him an unmeasured yes. When He is leading me or nudging me, will I stop to measure or “qualify” the cost, or will I just yield to Him completely? Honestly, I just feel downright afraid sometimes. I am not afraid of sharing what I believe or what Jesus has done in my life, but I think as I stood in line and sensed that nudge to offer to pray with that cashier, I was afraid of the unknown. Maybe I was even afraid of being wrong…what if it’s not God leading me and I make a fool of myself? Maybe I am afraid of what else God is going to ask or lead me to do! But it was Him and I know that because it has stayed on my mind and it is prompting me to ask some hard questions of myself.
What is more important…my comfort or extending the compassion of God? See, trusting God this way, answering with an unqualified yes, challenges me because I can’t understand it. I can’t know the other person’s heart or situation. I can’t know ahead of time how they would respond to me. Only God knows. The unqualified yes does not take me into account. I cease to be a part of the equation. The unqualified yes is really just a complete surrender. It’s crossing a line. I have been sensing that line. Jesus has been helping me and working in me, changing me and leading me. And there have been so many lines to cross already! Yet, here is another one. Crossing this line leaves behind the security of what I know and understand. Crossing this line means I may not ever know the purpose or outcome of what He asks of me at times. It means, most certainly, that it’s not about me.
I sense in my heart, that for all of us, there are things God has planned for us…wants to do in us and through us, but we hold back in some way or another, not fully understanding how holding back hinders His work in our lives. And how holding back hinders what He wants to do in someone else’s life. We are his hands and feet. I always heard this saying…”you may be the only Bible someone is reading.” It’s hard. I mean it can be easy to go to church or volunteer or say we are Christians, but it can be hard to face your fear about total surrender. Remember that song “I Surrender All?” I love that song and have sang along with tears on my face…but I think that was me learning to surrender my problems. I don’t think I ever considered or understood what ALL means. It means…ALL. Everything. It means if I’m standing in line at the store and the Holy Spirit tugs on my heart to offer to pray with someone I’ll cross that line and won’t stop to qualify or measure out how it’s going to go. It means I just say “Yes, Lord.”
What if I am wrong? What if someone looks at me like I am from another planet? Well then, I guess I may be embarrassed! But I know in my heart I have to cross it sooner or later…because what if reaching out in obedience, even while I’m afraid, touches that person’s heart? What if God’s compassion, spoken through me, is just what they need? What if it’s for the person standing in line behind me? What if that person needs to see that God is very real? Either way, I will learn to trust God to greater depths.
It’s not all about being in line at the grocery store (although sometimes I go in wondering “are you gonna do it to me agin, Lord?!”) It’s about our hearts…wherever we go. It’s the echo of Joshua’s words now ringing loud and clear in my life…”Choose this day who you will serve.” It’s a nice little verse for a calender but really I gotta choose to cross the line. It’s holding me back. I want all of what God wants to do in me and through me. I pray and ask God to work in my family until we are outside the box of “nice Christian family.” That just isn’t enough. Maybe the answer to that prayer is Him leading me right on up to that line and asking, in that Fatherly way but with a hint of a smirk (almost a dare!), are you gonna cross it?