My husband and I always said that “someday” we wanted to foster or adopt. When we were challenged by a friend who asked us what we were waiting for, we decided to start taking steps towards making “someday” a reality.
Fifty-plus hours of classes, dozens of home visits, multiple background checks and fingerprints, and four years later, we are living out our “someday” dreams. But – reality check – foster care is not easy! Another foster kiddo left us recently. And while we are always happy for kids who get to move on, it’s never easy to say good-bye. All kinds of hard feelings hit us. Regret that we couldn’t help more, uncertainty about when we will get to see them again, and sadness for the loss of a friend.
Saying “yes” to vocational ministry or volunteer opportunities can take a similar toll. Unexpected crisis phone calls (always when one or more kids are crying or dinner is boiling over), busy evenings, other people’s expectations for your career (choices/time/life), interpersonal conflict, extended training times away from family… There is always a cost to saying yes to a calling.
If you have ever said “yes” was to foster care or adoption, ministry, volunteering, missions, or some other way of giving away a portion of your time or resources for the cause of Christ, then you know that saying “yes” wasn’t easy, but it felt exciting, right? Adventurous. Brave. And you were set on it. Set on the “yes” that had already taken hold of your heart.
The excitement of the “yes” carries you through preparation, training, speaking, raising money… anything you need to do to get to your fully abandoned new reality.
And then, one day, you look around at your new reality. Fortunately, it is a new adventure – just as you hoped it would be! And fortunately, you are still doing your best to walk in obedience to what you heard God calling you to do. But unfortunately… you are still the same you that you have always been.
You rose to this occasion – only to discover that it’s hard to walk on your tiptoes. Sooner or later you would have to slump back into your old gait, flatfooted and easily tripped.
So now what?
What do you do when it hits you that this “yes” thing is not easy, and – more importantly – that you don’t have what it takes to accomplish your mission?
First, take a deep breath. This is where we should have started in the first place. This realization that we are not the savior, that we can’t turn ourselves into superheroes simply by responding to a need, and that although our hearts are willing to help, we come empty-handed.
Let’s start this whole “yes” thing over again, shall we?
Yes, Lord, I will go where you send me and do what you call me to do. But I am weak, my excitement will wear off, and my own pride, self-centeredness, need for affirmation, and temper will get in the way. I might do more harm than good, unless your Spirit fills me, strengthens me, and leads me day by day.
When we say yes, it is not just to something bigger than us – it is to Someone bigger than us. Someone big enough to carry us in our failures, to hold us in His love, and to solve all the problems without us.
So this is not a quick one-time “yes” to a brave, bold calling. No, this is a daily, slow-cooker “yes” to a strong, loving God. Yes to leaning on His strength when we reach the end of ours. Yes to listening for the Spirit’s guidance instead of following our natural instincts. Yes to letting Jesus pour His love out through us to the people around us when our cache of love runs dry. Yes every day… yes all night… yes when the kids are screaming… yes when we sit down, exhausted, to pray, but fall asleep instead.
We dare not say “yes” to a calling or a passion or a need. Those are hard masters, and they will eventually drain us or break us. Our “yes” must be instead a daily surrender to the One who spoke the world into being with the very first “YES!” and who answers our cries for help with the gentlest and strongest yes.