If We Say YES?

from Rev. Bruce Wood - February 2016

Published in News First — our monthly church newsletter  

As we begin a new year and look at all the possibilities that unfold before us - it's also a good time to review how each of us participate, and contribute to the community that is Warragul Uniting Church.

As a minister in the Uniting Church, recalling and re-assessing my call to ministry is one of those ever-present voices that powers my day-to-day living - which I talked a little about last Sunday.

I spoke about how I said NO many times to a call to ministry.  The first NO came when I was about 8 years old, dismissing it because I was just a kid - and there was no way I was going to one of ‘those’ people.  It came again and again as I grew older, and I can remember saying, ‘No way’, each time, and went off and did something different.

The odd thing is that I was gradually getting closer and closer to ministry all the time - no matter which direction I turned - and eventually I had to stop saying ‘No’’, and seriously look at saying ‘Yes’ to this call to ministry - which offered possibilities way beyond my thinking - and a whole lot of difficulties that would have to be overcome.  It was very scary, because, if I said Yes, then I also had to trust God a whole lot more than I had in the past. 

Saying ‘yes’ to the call of God is not an easy process for any of us - and it will certainly change us, and our life direction.  Yet, so often we underrate ourselves and our abilities - and when we are challenged to attempt greater things, we hesitate, or very quickly say NO - not necessarily because we don’t want to do what others believe we can - but because we see ourselves as inadequate.

We are quick to say - I don’t have the expertise, or the knowledge, or the patience, or the physical ability, to do that.’  And that might be quite logical, and quite safe - but it’s not a particularly Christian way of thinking - for it doesn’t allow for the Spirit of God to work in our lives - it stifles any prompting from God that might push us beyond what can do or understand - it limits our growth as people, and as a community of Christian people - and it limits our ability to see ourselves as God knows us to be. 

The story of Jeremiah and his call from God to become a prophet is a great example of this.  His reaction to God was something like - ‘Hang on God, you’re making a big mistake!  I’m far too young for anybody to take me seriously, and I’m also a lousy public speaker.’
[Bible reference, Jeremiah 1:4-10]

Jeremiah finds a few pretty good excuses why he couldn’t, and shouldn’t, do what God was asking him to do - for God was asking him to stand up, and to speak up against his local community leaders - to tell them they were wrong - and that they needed to change.

And so it’s not a great surprise that Jeremiah initially says - ‘No way’.  Yet in spite of all his doubts, and all his fears, he reluctantly accepts the call of God - and over time became one of the greatest prophets in history - both to Christians and to Muslims. 

One opportunity - one little YES - changed the direction of this young boy’s life forever.  And similarly for us - one simple YES, when we feel that force driving us forward - one simple YES, when we know that voice inside drawing us a new path - will also change our life forever.

When we allow the Spirit of God to move within us, life is different - more fulfilling and a bit more scary - but certainly more useful, more alive, and more in tune with God.  God is the great shatterer of our limitations - and by grace, we are children of God, for whom surprising things are possible, if we dare to say YES.