“We’re busy reassuring one another that God wants us to do what’s safest for our families and to pursue God in a way that looks suspiciously similar to what we’d naturally do if our only concern was our own comfort and happiness.”
-Letters to the Church, Francis Chan
I am definitely guilty of reassuring myself and others that what is safest for my family, my comfort, and my happiness is what God is calling me to do. Should I go to the meeting to hear the Lord speak to the future of our church, or should I stay home so my kids have a normal bedtime? Should I not attend church because my child never stays in Sunday school anyway? Should I not serve the homeless because one of them might do something unbecoming that I then have to explain to my children? Should I not volunteer for a service opportunity because it will take away from my personal time?
I know some of us will convince ourselves “it’s a season,” but is it? Really look at it. Is this a season? How long has our season been? How long will it be by the time our kids are “at a good age?” And by then, how many times will they have seen us say no to ministry and yes to their needs? And how many times will they have missed the needs around them because their parents never showed them how to see them?
My kids see needs in their friends, and serve them. When I sat my kids down to tell them about the disastrous fires in our neighboring town last fall, their first reaction was “What can we do, Mom?” I cried happy tears in that moment because they knew what the Lord was calling them to. At three and five years old, they wanted to help people in need. They packed up an overflowing bag of books and wanted to take them to the children who didn’t have books any more. My 5 year old was in tears when we told her she couldn’t deliver the books to the kids in the shelters because there was too much smoke to go outside. In that instance, I thought maybe the health of her lungs outweighed her desire to serve those in need, but in most cases, it’s a yes every time.
When Jesus called his disciples, not one of the men said “we’ve got t-ball practice tomorrow, maybe next week,” or “once my kids are all in school,” or “catch me next year when my kids are sleeping through the night.” They all said yes. Immediately yes. Yes, for sure, without a doubt, yes.
And some literally “dropped their nets” to follow him. They dropped their livelihood, their jobs, the only things they’ve ever known. They walked away from their fathers, their mothers, their families because Jesus asked them to. He walked up to them and said “Hey you, follow me,” and there was zero question of their answer, zero excuses to stay, and no hesitance to let go of their nets. Yet, we have so many excuses, so many nets that we’re holding, we can’t just walk away. We hold so tightly to things in our lives, and the slightest inconvenience for ministry causes us to grip them even more tightly.
I am not perfect, I don’t always say yes, and I don’t always give the Lord the time he deserves, but I would love to try. I would love to say yes, when I want to hold tightly to my nets. I would love to start saying yes when it’s uncomfortable, when it inconveniences me, and yes even inconveniences my children! I would love to start saying yes when my kids won’t sleep and they’ll be grumpy, but they’ll see the work of God unfolding before their eyes. And even if they’re in childcare during the unfolding, they’ll see it in my face and my actions as a result. I would love to say yes, when parts of me want to say no, when it would be easier to say no, when it won’t hurt anyone else to say no. I would love to say yes when it will help my relationship with God, and possibly inconvenience my schedule.
Saying yes to the Lord will never hurt my kids. If it feels like it does, and it seems like it does at the time, I promise you it won’t. The Lord promises that following his plans is to “prosper us and not to harm us, to give us hope and a future,” and I believe that future includes the futures of my children (Jeremiah 29:11). I believe that God is in the business of loving us, and helping us, and that’s in everything, not just some things. He is in the hard seasons, the sleepless seasons, the high anxiety, high stress ones. He is in it all, and he’s just asking us to drop our nets, and follow him. Drop what is holding us back, and follow him. It may be hard but it’s never unworthy of our yes.