Many of us have to learn to say, “No,” to turn down something good in order to focus on what we are truly called to. We need to learn that just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should. We need to make sure we don’t just say “Yes” to please people or to avoid guilt. We need to make sure we don’t commit to something we aren’t able to follow through on. There is a time to say, “No.”
But there is also a time to say, “Yes,”to give our wholehearted assent and to venture into something new and risky, be it a large risk or a small one. Saying “Yes” is what I want to talk about today, because saying “Yes,” can lead to open doors and can expand us in ways we can’t even anticipate when we let that word slide out of our mouths.
I look back with gratitude to five years ago when a good friend of mine, who is a singer and song writer, asked me to choreograph movement for a music video she was making. I seriously considered saying, “No,” because it felt daunting and I wasn’t sure I had (or could make) the time to do it. Proverbs 16:1 says, “The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD. Even though I kept mulling over “No,” when I had to reply, “Yes,” is what came out of me. (You can see the video here. It’s entitled, “Know Me,” and is at the bottom of the page.)
Walking through that open door brought blessings I didn’t anticipate when I said, “Yes.” That “Yes” led to a chain of opportunities for me to exercise and grow in the gift of dance. It sparked creativity in me that spilled over to several other dance projects that year. It reignited my love for and calling to dance ministry. And it started with a “Yes.”
Last Thursday, one of the lead teachers at the school at which I teach asked if I would be willing to teach chapel the following Wednesday. Earlier this year, when she passed around a sign up for chapel speakers, I deliberately let the sign up sheet pass me by. My plate is full this fall, and I was being choosy about my commitments. But when this woman, whom I love and through whom God speaks to me, asked me directly, I let the “Yes” come out, not even letting myself debate the decision.
That “Yes” led me to soak in a passage of the book of John last week, listening for what God might want to say to the students. It gave me the chance to share with the whole student body just a bit about postures of worship. I got to see the entire room of students, young boys and girls and young men and women, bowing in prayer and then raising hands in prayer. And it sparked other ideas for how I might be able to contribute to chapel worship.
A month ago, my friend Valerie, who leads the dance ministry at Victory Bible Church here in Pasadena, asked if I would like to bring a group of dancers to participate in their first annual dance concert, “When the Spirit Moves.” I toyed with saying “No” and initially did, because I got a “No” from a dancer with whom I felt led to dance. But the Lord tugged on that dancer’s heart and changed her “No” to a “Yes,” freeing me to do the same.
So, we’ll be dancing with them. As I’m preparing, I’m realizing how much this opportunity is an answer to prayer. Since I first felt a calling to move forward in dance ministry, I’ve wanted to gather a community liturgical dance group and I’ve wanted to get to know the community of praise dancers who live locally to me. While I’ve met many through workshops I’ve taught over the past two years, there are so many more I haven’t met. I’ve set aside my longing to be part of a liturgical dance group in order to focus on other projects. But it has always been on my heart, and really is one of the opportunities I’ve wanted most.
I’m excited to see what doors open, what creativity sparks in me and how God works. I’m learning that our “Yeses” often often lead to other open doors, which result in more opportunities to say “Yes” or “No,” as the Spirit leads.
So, my encouragement you today is to leave space for the “Yeses.” Sometimes this means saying “No” to other things. Sometimes it means being willing to change our plans, to rearrange what we thought we were supposed so we can follow through on the “Yes.” Sometimes it just means being open and having faith to believe that He will enable us to follow through, and that this “Yes” isn’t even the end of the plan. It’s just the beginning.
Take time to join the discussion and share in the comment section. I’d love to hear from you.
What have you said, “Yes,” to recently? What doors opened as a result?
How do you discern when to say, “Yes,” and even when you’re tempted to say, “No?”