God has called each one of us to be ambassadors and witnesses – to shine His light into the world so that people will see God in the darkness. It is God who saves and draws people to Himself but He demonstrates His love and grace and lives out salvation in us.
God has qualified and empowered each one of us to do this momentous task. It should be done every day in every conversation in every opportunity. It’s not something we turn off or turn on. We don’t clock in or clock out. We ARE witnesses. 24/7. We ARE the light of the world, unhidden and shinning bright. God often uses small matches to light up great torches, no matter how small you feel in this world, He has something big in store for you and will use you in amazing ways.
I know for myself that the key to being a witness and a light is to say YES. One small word changes my intentionality level and willingness to be used by God. One small word. YES.
On Friday a week ago I found myself in a situation where I had to use that word yes. Tony and Evangeline had been on school camp in Raglan and I was on pick up duty, glad to see my intrepid travellers again. And then God interrupted the situation. I found myself talking to a Mum first about intermediate choices for her son next year and then boom, the conversation switched and we were talking about youth group and church and deep things that had happened in her life to turn her away from God. It was one of those conversations that I walked away shaking my head asking how did that conversation even start? How did it turn into a God conversation? How did we get real so fast?
I know for myself, the key to conversations like that happening with regularity is my willingness to say YES. I have learned that YES is the catalyst for conversations about Jesus. YES is the catalyst for God to move. YES is my response to God’s invitation for me to partner with Him to change the world, one person at a time.
I have learned that YES is so very important, because I have seen the WOW of what God does with even just one conversation. Those wow conversations shine as banners to me of what is impossible and also what I would have missed if I had said no, I’m too busy, it’s not convenient, I don’t feel like it, it’s a bad hair day.
Let’s look at the power of YES in people’s lives in the Bible.
“By an act of faith, Abraham said yes to God’s call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home. When he left he had no idea where he was going.” ~ Hebrews 11:8 MSG
Abraham said yes to God and left his home and his family, left the familiar for the unfamiliar, letting God guide him. So often we can feel the same way – that a YES to God takes us out of our comfort zone and into unexplored territory. Sometimes saying YES to a conversation with someone can feel like going to an unknown place, and that we have no idea where we are going in the conversation. It’s in these moments that it’s good to remember the end of Abraham’s journey – father of nations, father of faith, whom God promised in Genesis 17 that the land that Abraham was a foreigner in would become his land, his descendants land.
Isaiah had an incredible vision of God. He saw His glory and power. He overheard God saying in Isaiah 6 Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” Isaiah’s response is YES! “I’ll go. Send me!” I’m not sure he even knew what he was volunteering for, but after seeing the majesty and glory of God Isaiah was ready to do whatever was asked. The more we see Him, the more we want others to.
And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19 Peter said YES to Jesus’ call, leaving behind his boats, his livelihood, his future, his security. He made fishing for people his priority, his purpose.
Where does fishing fit in our priorities? Are we willing to lay down our agenda’s for God’s great agenda – the rescue of souls?
Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is desert. 27 So he arose and went. Acts 8:26-27 Now to give some context here several verses earlier in the chapter it describes how Philip was involved in a thriving ministry, seeing people healed and delivered in Samaria. In Acts 8:8 it even hints that there was citywide revival, the city was rejoicing with great joy at what God was doing. And then Philip is directed to go into the desert. In the middle of no where. For no apparent reason. Philip said YES. Now we have the luxury of knowing what happened next – but put yourself in Philips shoes, you’re in a thriving ministry where it seems like God is pouring out the blessing and the next thing its hit the road jack and you’re in the desert. Some of you may feel like you’re in the desert and that you don’t know what direction to take, that you’re faithfully following God but that it’s hard to determine what this season has to do with living the dream and living out your destiny. This desert was a divine appointment for Philip. He was walking and then the Holy Spirit directed him to go and have a conversation with a man. This man was a man of authority from Ethiopia and this conversation changed his eternity. He was saved and baptised right away. I believe God does anything on purpose and with purpose and the desert season you may be feeling right now is God at work. Lean into Him and keep trusting. Continue to be led by the Spirit as Philip was and be open to what God is doing.
My desert was the many waiting rooms at Auckland Hospital and Manukau Superclinic that I frequented over a 18 month period trying to “sort out” (or even accurately diagnose) my battle with severe food and environmental allergies. The hospitals have a funny way of giving you an appointment at 10am, which means you’ll see the specialist any time after 11am if you were lucky. So I spent a lot of hours in the waiting room. With people. Who were also struggling with health issues and questions. In those moments can you see we have a choice? We will either allow the time to be wasted or we allow it to be turned around for God’s good. On purpose, with purpose. I made it my goal to have at least one conversation about Jesus with someone each time. I kept my heart open for that divine appointment.
One of the more dramatic yes’s of the Bible is the account of Hosea.
Hosea is one of those books that probably should come with a PG rating but is my favourite book of the Bible because it is a phenomenal picture of the gospel and of God’s unrelenting, everlasting, never stopping, never giving up love for us. The name Hosea even means Salvation and is the same name as Joshua and Jesus and as we read Hosea we see that not only his words, but that his whole life was a prophetic message to Israel.
And in it all, on every page, we see Hosea humbling himself and saying Yes to God.
YES I will marry a woman in dodgy employment. YES I will love her. YES I will pursue her, even though she is unfaithful. YES I will pay the ransom to buy her back.
Hosea is a great picture of Jesus – who redeems the lost and broken – and makes them His bride. We were far away from God, our thoughts and the way we lived our lives made us separated – just as how Gomer’s thoughts and actions separated her from her husband Hosea. Jesus paid it all and has done it all so that there is a way back to God – so that we are now called beloved children of God.
Now I’m not suggesting that missionary dating in any way is okay or beneficial, or that as witnesses that God is going to put us in “similar situations” that appear to compromise our integrity… but I am saying that God loves lost people and will go to any lengths to reveal His love and grace to them. That may be by using YOU and taking you out of your comfort zone, by making fishing a priority and by having us lay our lives down, surrendering to His will and purposes. Jesus hung out with sinners. He was never too spiritual or too holy or too above them to hang out with them. He opened his life and heart to those who were lost and broken. He never gave up on people. Jesus saw people as God saw them – as people that He loved outrageously. Will we love people like Jesus did? Will we let the barriers down? Will we say YES anytime, anywhere.
Now also to be plain, I’m not endorsing saying YES to dumb choices and to things that contradict how God would want us to act. We can shine in the darkness without having to be the same as that darkness. We can be different, righteous, holy – not of the world, but in the world. Just to make that plain.
Living a life that says YES to God will position us for divine appointments, for amazing conversations and for opportunities where God can direct our steps into unfamiliar territories for His purposes.