Not long ago, I was reviewing some journal entries from my study through Experiencing God. At some point I had stopped—several months back—and I couldn’t remember the reason. So, I turned to the last entry: “I cannot say ‘yes.’”
I remember now the fear that the idea of an emphatic “yes” had carried. “Yes” had brought me to Africa—alone. “Yes” had separated me from my family and friends—for a year. “Yes” was uncomfortable and lonely. “Yes” was out of the question.
But as I read that entry, a broad, goofy smile spread across my face. Somewhere within the past few months, Christ changed my heart. He romanced my soul, and I had said “yes.”
There is a deep theological concept here concerning a progression that must occur to transform a person from being a “conditional follower” to one who can pronounce an emphatic “yes” to Christ.
Several weeks ago, I read about an interview with the Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison. When posed the question as to the basis and method of her success, she merely replied: “I am a great writer because when I was a little girl and walked into a room where my father was sitting, his eyes would light up. That is why. … There is no other reason.”
Consider the disciples, knowing without a doubt that the God of all creation loved each one of them personally, regardless of anything they were or did. He loved them. When one is truly loved unconditionally, when one has grown in the deepest, most fulfilling relationship, there is nothing a person wouldn’t do for the sake of that lover. This is what fueled the disciples through their ministries, what—as tradition testifies—compelled most to their deaths—love for Christ. Why? Because of his great love.
I think, as evangelical Christians, we often become inoculated to the gospel of Christ, and even to the Gospels themselves—reading through the pages, getting caught up in our own agendas concerning politics, theology, or next week’s sermon—and somehow begin to neglect the beauty and truth that lies in the person of Christ Jesus. That’s why we find such difficulty in saying “yes” to him. It is not that we lack the desire to be like Christ or that we lack the desire to please him. Instead, it is simply our failure to know him, because to know him is to love him.
Indeed, “yes” still leaves me here in Africa—alone. “Yes” still leaves me separated from my family and friends—for a year. “Yes” remains uncomfortable and lonely. But the Creator of the universe loves me, and so I am finally compelled to live for him who died for me.
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Jessica Young, a Wayland Baptist University graduate, is serving with Go Now Missions in Kenya.