The summer sun beat down on the roofs of the Nebraska Wesleyan District campground, with its white-washed structures randomly planted among the cornfields and cow pastures, surrounded by country dirt roads and barbed wire fences. Thousands of dogday cicadas softly hummed their weeee-oooooooo-weeeee-oooooo, welcoming the human intruders to their rural domain. Sand burrs lay hidden in the sandy soil waiting to impale bare feet. Any grass lay trampled by the feet of dozens of children gathered for church camp.
The morning breakfast of pancakes and syrup with a side of canned peaches had been consumed with a side of Tang, and the iron bell clanged its beckoning call to chapel. The air was musty and humid in the cement-floored tabernacle, which stood boarded up against the elements most of the year, until summer camp rolled around. Now it was filled with pre-pubescent mischief and energy, anxious to get on with the activities for that day.
The day I said yes.
I was sitting on the aisle at the end of the wooden pew in the right half of the building, a half a dozen rows back from the front of the platform. The breeze blew in lightly from the screenless windows through my permed towhead hair. My feet squirmed in the sandy dirt on the concrete floor beneath my feet. The pastor was preaching a compelling message, and though my eyes were fixed on his polyester baby blue plaid suit, I could not focus on his words.
Someone else was speaking to me.
“I want you to say yes, no matter what,” the Holy Spirit whispered.
“Yes, to what?”
“I want you to say yes, no matter what.”
The words reminded me of when Moses asked the name of the One who spoke from the burning bush.
“I Am Who I Am.” While obviously a person cannot tell God that is a lousy answer, I’m sure that Moses did a little shaking in his sandalless feet when he realized that was actually the answer God expected Moses to give to Pharoah. The Pharoah with the temper, and a grudge.
If I were in Moses’ bare feet, I would have thought, “Are you trying to get me killed by making me into a smart-mouth, ‘I Am Who I Am’?” Thankfully, Moses chose his words more wisely at that time.
“I want you to say yes to me, no matter what,” the Holy Spirit pressed again as if the wind itself were carrying the words through me.
“Jesus, I already have you in my heart, I don’t know what more you want from me,” I protested.
“For the rest of your life, I want you to say yes to me, no matter what. I have great plans for you, but I need you to always tell me yes.”
By the time the pastor gave the altar call, I was running for the front of the altar to pray with hot tears of conviction streaming down my face. My counselor, Tracy, followed me. I felt awful for her because I was sobbing so hard, all I could say was, “I just want to do what Jesus says.”
That day, I committed my life to Christ in what I now know is called sanctification — the moment when God got all of me. I had already experienced all of God’s forgiveness and love, but it took years before I gave God the right to overrule any of my decisions. That day, I knew that if God made His will clear, I would follow it, no matter what.
I was not saying yes to a project.
I was not saying yes to a profession.
I was not saying yes to a pursuit.
I was saying yes to a Person.
Jesus didn’t want my affection, my talents, or my plans, He wanted my YES.
He wants your YES too.
When I tell people today about God asking us to move to Ghana, I’m always a bit surprised to hear people say, “Oh, Africa? I could NEVER do that!” Saying “never” to God is not an option. For me, the choice was made more than 30 years ago on a sandy concrete floor in the front of a musty tabernacle.
The choice was made the day I said yes.
“But Jesus said to him, ‘No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.'” — Luke 9:62 NASB