I stood over the simmering pot, wondering why I hadn’t chosen to make salad for dinner instead. The oven emanated heat against my hips.
Mid-August humidity pressed heavy on my chest. Its oppression clung, sticky, on my skin. Again I scolded myself for the poor menu selection, as I stirred vegetables bobbing in boiling water.
I could feel my crankiness rising with the temperature.
The fan blowing at my feet did little to relieve my discomfort in our un-air-conditioned home.
An idea popped into my head. I glanced at the clock and brushed it off. It was almost supper time, but my husband wasn’t yet home from work. By the time he arrived, we would eat and tell our three kids to get ready for bed.
The idea pushed its way back into my mind.
After an internal game of teeter totter going back and forth in my mind, I picked up my phone and texted my husband: “Thinking about a spontaneous after-dinner trip to the beach. What do you think?”
A few minutes later, my phone buzzed with his reply: “No. Have to get up early for a conference call.”
I could have left it there, but the desire to whisk my kids off to a surprise dip in Lake Michigan kept bubbling up like the water on the stove.
We never do this. The weather is perfect. The lake is so close. We might not have this opportunity again. The kids will remember it for a long time. Besides, it’s what I grew up doing, and now they have a chance to do it, too.
I sent the same text message to my sister, who lives even closer to Lake Michigan.
Her reply? “Um, yes! Text me when you’re on your way.”
Her “yes” gave way to my own.
If she had said, “Oh sorry, I’m going to yoga tonight,” or “I can’t make it this evening,” I would’ve given up on the idea altogether.
I had my mental list of reasons to say “no” ready and waiting: We’ll get home late. It’s a waste of gas to drive there. We just vacuumed the van today, and if we go to the beach, we’ll just get it all sandy again. I just washed the bathing suits and towels. If we go, it means more laundry.
Instead, after dinner, I stepped into my swimsuit, grabbed four towels, and announced to my kids, “Let’s go!”
“To the beach?!”
They were ecstatic.
We made it to the shore, and the water was perfect. We laughed and squealed and it was altogether wonderful.
Then, just when I didn’t think it could get any better, God put on a magnificent display of His majesty with the clouds and setting sun. Rays of light shone through puffs of pink, resting in a single line of sunshine where the water met the sky.
It was breathtaking.
I couldn’t help but think, If I hadn’t said yes to this spontaneous outing, I would’ve missed seeing God’s glory.
I saw it in the sky. I saw it in my kids’ faces. I heard it in my sister’s laughter. I felt it with the coolness of the water against my skin.
I would have missed it all had I stayed at home, sweltering and cranky, bound to routine.
The Power of “Yes”
I’ve been thinking lately about the power of “yes.”
I admit, I say “no” far more often than I say “yes,” at least to myself and my kids. Recently, I’ve been pushing the “no” out of my head to make room for the “yes.”
This summer, I witnessed a whole group of women who chose a brave “yes.” They said “yes” to attend a weekend retreat designed for Christian bloggers. Very few had ever met each other in person. It was a courageous “yes” to register and travel into the unknown. Yet when they arrived, they witnessed the power of God.
Had they said “no” to the invitation to attend and “no” to God’s nudging of their hearts, they would’ve missed out on the glorious display of His goodness.
In her book, Let’s All Be Brave, Annie Downs has a chapter called, “Yes.” In it, she writes this about the word, “Yes”:
“It’s a powerful word. I venture to guess it is one of God’s favorite words. He’s always saying yes to us if only we listen…. He’s about giving and restoration and love. Those all scream yes to me.”
As she closes the chapter, Annie gives this challenge:
“Say yes to the open door. Say yes to the situations that stretch and scare you and ask you to be better than you think you can be. Say yes to the moments that will only come once. Say yes to serving. Say yes to Jesus in every way – every chance you get.”
When “No” is the Easy Way Out
I was recently asked to do an interview on live radio. It was my first time to receive such a request, and my initial reaction was to decline. “I’m a writer, not a speaker,” I thought to myself. I know my strengths, and speaking is not one of them. I feared I would fumble.
But a gentle prodding kept poking my insides, until I conceded. The Lord reminded me that He delights in showing His power through my weakness. In fact, His “power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
I had to push the “no” aside in order to make room for the obedient “yes.” I had to shove aside my fears in order for God’s glory to shine through the cracks of this broken vessel.
What is God asking you to say “yes” to today? How might you be missing the glory of God if you say “no”?
Maybe it’s time for you to push the “no” out of your head to make room for the “yes.” If you do, you might just see the glory of God.
Kate Motaung grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan before spending ten years in Cape Town, South Africa. She is married to a South African and together they have three children. Kate is the author of the e-book, Letters to Grief, hosts the Five Minute Friday blog link-up, and has contributed to several other online publications. She blogs at Heading Home and can be found on Twitter @k8motaung.