Yes or no? Should I go to England on an educational tour? “Yes!” Do I agree to run a 5K with friends, even though I stopped running more than ten years ago? “Yes!” Will I teach at a mission retreat for children, youth and adults? “Yes!”
Since my husband died I have been on a journey of healing and transformation. For the first few months after he died I was convinced that when his life ended, my did, as well. Twenty months later I am learning to live again, and I am doing so by saying “yes” to things that are new, unexpected and spontaneous. That’s why on a Friday evening I postponed finishing my sermon so I could attend a jazz concert with friends. Or the evening I went for late night appetizers with a friend who needed to talk, even though I had worked a long day. The answer was “yes!”
By saying “yes” instead of “no” I have been able to develop and grow friendships, experience new and unique opportunities, and free myself from some of the overwhelming loneliness that casts a shadow over my life. Saying “yes” has been life-giving. Looking back over the past year and a half, I see that the challenges and trials I have faced are the catalyst that propels me forward instead of holding me back. Too often, it seems, people are tempted to give up when hardship strikes; to stop moving forward and give in to the despair. I know this all too well, for in those first few months after my husband’s death, I was tempted to stay in bed with the covers over my head; pondered often about just getting on a plane in order to escape to someplace far away, and to start a new life. My friends and family are probably grateful that I did not choose that route, and so am I.
Instead of escape I chose to say “yes” each new day by getting out of bed. At first, I ventured to the living room and my front yard. Eventually I said “yes” to family and friends when they invited me to join them for events and dinners. My stamina for these outings was short, but I did it anyway. It was in the saying “yes” that I realized MY life was not over even though my life with my husband was. I had to figure out what came next for me.
Saying “yes” has opened doors for me that were previously closed or weren’t yet in existence. Some days I need to remind myself who is responsible for these open and shut doors, and so I turn to scripture. The prophet Jeremiah knew all too well the hardship of closed and open doors. As a spokesperson for God, Jeremiah needed these words (and many others) to share with the people about God’s constant presence in the midst of their time in exile. “I know the plans I have in mind for you,” declares the Lord; “they are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope. When you call Me and come and pray to Me, I will listen to you. When you search for Me, yes, search for Me with all your heart, you will find Me” (Jeremiah 29: 11-13, CEB).
God’s plan for me is that I prosper in a way that honors my gifts and whom I was created to be. To prosper in God’s way is to have my basic needs met, AND to live in the now and into the future filled with light and love as only God can provide. Am I on the look-out for a new life partner? “Yes!” Am I seeking guidance from God in my vocation? “Yes!” Am I listening and alert for the doors God is opening for me in these and other areas? “Yes!” I am open to where God leads me as I continue to write, serve in ministry, and build relationships with new and amazing people. What a wonderful journey I am on!
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT Look to Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians, and seek to embrace God’s promises: “All of God’s promises have their ‘yes’ in Him. That is why we say ‘Amen’ through Him to the glory of God. God is the one who establishes us with you in Christ and who anointed us. God also sealed us and gave the Spirit as a down payment in our hearts” (2 Corinthians 1:20-22 CEB). God provides a new life for me and for YOU! How will you live into that life? Like me, it is likely still forming and evolving, with God revealing them to you in God’s own time. I invite you to say “yes” so that you may explore the new and exciting opportunities that God has in store. What is it YOU need to say “yes” to? What might be holding you back and causing you to utter a “no?” Read 2 Corinthians 1: 20-22 again and practice saying “yes” to the healthy and life-giving circumstances and opportunities that come into your path. Remember that God promises to provide a future of goodness and plenty that yields a fulfilling life.
PRAYER God of Grace and Love, it is difficult sometimes to trust that You really DO seek to provide an abundant future for me. Help me in my mistrust, and guide me to say “yes” to the wondrous life that You offer. When I wish I could run away and hide from life, help me to emerge and embrace even a portion of what You provide. My heart is open to You, Lord, and I want to prosper in the life You impart to me. In Jesus name, Amen.
You can read more about Jenny Seylar and her ministry at www.lovelylane.org or her blog “Journey From Despair to Hope” at https://journeyandstrength.wordpress.com/2018/09/12/through-the-lens-of-grief/