When To Say No and When To Say Yes?

I was reading scripture the other day and I hit some pretty thought-provoking stuff that seemed like a challenge for me where I am in life right now.

Jesus was going from town to town, preaching and healing, and he got to this one town and everybody there wanted Him to stay.  But He didn’t.  He kept heading towards Jerusalem.  I’m sure that if He had stayed, he would have done many Good things, healing people and teaching people and showing them the one, true God.  However He kept going.  He knew the path that He was to take.  He knew the purpose He had been sent to Earth for, and he kept everything pointing in that direction.

Jesus simply said “No.” to the things that were tertiary to God’s purpose for Him; even if they were good things.

This thought has been on my mind a lot lately; that is, what I should be saying yes to and what I should be saying no to, and where things fit.  This morning I ran across a blog post by a fellow I know here in Winnipeg, and it’s added a small amount of resolve to my thoughts on it all.

Jesus chose his path and said no to things that would take Him away from it; in the same way we cannot take up absolutely everything that comes our way.  We can’t.  There is simply too much, even if it is good, for us to be able to do.

Dave goes on to mention a talk by Rob Bell where he addresses this idea and brings up the idea of Kierkegaard: we need to focus our energy into the things we’re supposed to be doing.  If we say yes to everything, we won’t be able to do the thing where our strength lies.

We don’t have the capability to do everything; God asks us to choose wisely.

So I have the same question as Dave, what on earth should I be foucusing on?  What has God given me the ability to do?  I can identify a few gifts that God has blessed me with; skills in both the practical and relational sense.  I know that I want to be there for people.  I know that community is an extremely integral part of who I am.  Without it I’m often left feeling empty.  As time goes on, I feel more and more certain that God has built me to serve in a community.  For my science and logic-oriented brain, music is an inexplicable part of who I am as well.  Guitar has been something that kicked down the door and demanded a lot of time in my life; time I have happily given to it and a skill that, with the blessing and grace of God, has become better and better in a very short time.  It means a lot to me: it makes me happy, it’s become a part of my dialogue of prayer, and for some reason it simply just is a part of who I am.  I’ve been gifted and blessed with my passion and skill with weather.  The more I think about it, the more I realize just how lucky I was to be able to know what I wanted to do as far as a career goes since I was very, very young.  Many things are attached to my job: I find it challenging and rewarding, I feel like I’m able to have a tangible contribution to the general public, I am given the opportunity to use my skills to make decisions that really do help save lives.  I’m not exactly sure how the job fits in with God, but all I know is that I do it for Him and His Glory: I offer it to Him and I know that He’ll find a way to use it.

My job also presents some of the biggest challenges for me.  Shift work has been a big change to my life schedule and I’m still learning how to make things fit.  When I was back in Edmonton, I had my 9-5 (ish) jobs with the flexibility to allow me to allot regular time to using my skills in service.  The biggest two that I feel I miss the most and need to find out how to make them work here are a) a bible study, spending a couple hours every week in community discussing, exploring, and learning scripture and finding out how we can not just know it, but live it; and b) being able to use the gifts I have been blessed with in music and to offer that back to people.  Helping to lead a congregation in worship was something I felt very much called to, and it’s amazing how the opportunities and things I needed to do and be were able to line up in such short notice while I was in Edmonton.  Playing for In His Name was a place where I found myself called to be: I felt God working through me and…for lack of any better description or words, it was a place that felt like it was where I was required to be.

These things are things that I feel like I need to make work again, and I’ve been able to do both in bits and pieces since I moved here, but I often find myself overwhelmed with simply how much there is that I could be doing and how many good things there are to get involved in.  I need to spend a lot more time in prayer to figure out what and where I’m supposed to be: like Jesus, I don’t want to let the things that aren’t part of what God’s direction for me is detract me from that.  I have a purpose, but I’m not quite sure what it is.

Fortunately, I feel fairly sure that God has the patience and grace to put up with me while I figure it out.  The canvas of my life is a work in progress; I’m still working on the penciling let alone adding any paint, and I’ve had to erase a few things in the process.

Moving is a far bigger change to life than I had expected, and in all the challenges it has and is presenting to me, as much as I feel like I’m floating out there without roots, it’s brought me closer to God and made me better able to hear His words.

We can’t say yes to everything, there’s too much.  God has things he wants us to do in life which he equips us for.  I’m still trying to figure out what it is I should be saying “Yes” to and what I should be saying “No” to.  I’m still figuring out what good things I would really like to do, but may be things God says aren’t for me, things that He already has “his people” working on it and He needs me elsewhere.

My life is a work in progress; like Dave, I often feel unsettled.  There’s something bigger that I’m supposed to be doing and focused on, but I can’t quite put my finger on it yet.  I guess all I can really do is pray about it, do my best to learn more about who God is and what He has to say, and make sure I take the time to listen.

crooked souls trying to stay up straight
dry eyes in the pouring rain, well
the shadow proves the sunshine
the shadow proves the sunshine

shine on me,
let my shadows prove the sunshine
please shine on me,
please let my shadows prove the sunshine

yeah yeah, shine on me
yeah yeah, shine on me
yeah yeah, shine on me
yeah yeah, shine on me…