When Yes to God Means No

“Be on guard.  Stand firm in the faith.  Be courageous.  Be strong.  And do everything in love.”  I Corinthians 16:13-14

Kicking and screaming in 2007.  Like a disobedient and overwhelmed toddler drama queen, that’s how my heart responded to the circumstances I found myself in.  And no choice.  No way out.  Really God?  I mean, hadn’t He given me enough in the past year?  A husband deployed to Iraq for a year, a senior in high school applying to colleges, a daughter getting married in the summer, a junior higher with a bad case of mono and a cancerous lesion on her shoulder needing surgery?  And now I was supposed to move to Germany?  Leave two daughters and aging parents an ocean away?  We were to ship our car and household goods, saunter back and forth across the entire country for the wedding, drop our daughter off at the college dorm curb and move to Europe.  All within 2 weeks.  I felt abandoned.  I didn’t know how to physically do it, much less emotionally readjust to a husband who had spent the last year in a war zone and say goodbye to two daughters at once.  I wrung my heart out to God, “Why have you abandoned me?”

The next Sunday, I took my angry heart to our military chapel with our two youngest daughters.  Another well-meaning military wife had just encouraged me, “Oh, you’ll love Germany!”  I didn’t want to hear it again.  Not one more time. How could they understand?  And why was I attending a place of worship?  I sat during the singing, arms folded tightly.  Don’t. talk. to. me.  The  chaplain took his place in front of the congregation.  What he said next I’ll never forget.

“I had a sermon all prepared, and last night, God told me to change it.  There’s someone or maybe several people in here who feel like God has abandoned them.  And so, today, my message for you is: God has not abandoned you.”

I’d like to say that after that glimpse- into- eternity encounter, my heart changed completely.  It didn’t.  Yet this God of grace took the screaming toddler inside of me and held me close.  He did not condemn. He held my hand across the country and back, at the wedding, and on the dorm curb.  He took it again as we crossed the Atlantic Ocean.  I learned that saying yes to God means saying no to me.

I have met many women who live out extraordinary circumstances in what may appear to some as mundane existence.   Some reside in small towns where they were born and will probably live out the rest of their lives.  Some don’t know where to call home because the military has moved them so much. Others press on in ministry, whether it be in rural churches or urban soup kitchens. Women who have turned their palms up and said, “Yes, God!” with bowed hearts to the Creator, even though they may not understand His ways.  Women who may never be well-known by the world’s definition of fame, but by exemplifying strong faith inspire others to follow Christ with abandon.

The beautiful, energetic Army wife whose second son was born with Downs Syndrome.  She and her husband named him William for William the Conqueror.  And he conquers milestones.  His optimistic, hilarious mother handles her life with grace, humor and thanksgiving.  She said “no” to self-pity. Yes, God.

The mother of 2 young children and a husband who is gone literally half the year who stays home to give her family stability.  She and her husband have an intentionality about their marriage than I don’t see in relationships where both people are home 24/7.  She said “no” to the pressure of needing more. Yes, God.

A woman who works as a children’s speech pathologist, mostly with at risk families in poverty.  She considers her position a calling, regularly praying over her patients and asking for intercession- that God would intervene in their lives and that she can be the hands and feet of Jesus.  She said “no” to doubt.   Yes, God.

The church planter’s wife with a passion for Jesus and His Word who wonders every day, “Who will you put in my path to introduce Jesus to? When will You establish this church?”  She homeschools 3 kids, clings to God’s promises with her husband, stands firm and shows courage.  She said “no” to things seen, believing in the things hoped for. Yes, God.

A young teenage girl over 2000 years ago who met an angel and was told she would bear Emmanuel, Jesus, conceived by the Holy Spirit.  Literally, breath.  God chose her because she was an ordinary girl-woman whom He knew would say yes.  She said “no” to needing all the immediate answers.  Yes, God.

Ordinary women.  Extraordinary faith.  What can we learn from those that God has called to say no to say YES to Him?








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Women of Grace

She took refuge among the trees, feeling an unnatural rush of adrenaline and her heart pounding for the first time.  She had never felt this emotion of fear or what it did to her body.  Did she wonder what was wrong with her?  Why did the lush green canopy overhead suffocate and the brilliant colors of the flowers underneath suddenly bother her? She couldn’t do it.  She couldn’t face Him.  But He knew, of course.  He knew where they were and asked anyway.  Thankfully, He asked her husband first.
“Where are you?”
“I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked ; so I hid,” her husband’s voice sounded different from the one she knew.
“Who told you you were naked?  Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”  It felt like an accusation.
Then her husband did the unthinkable.  He blamed her for his actions.  “The woman you put me here with.  It was her fault.”   She could think of no better answer than to blame the serpent.  Didn’t that gorgeous creature deceive her? And then the Lord God whom she used to walk in the garden with cursed them.  Cursed them and threw them out.   Wait, was there hope?  Woven into the terror of being thrown out of their home, was there hope?
“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and he will strike his heel.”  Genesis 3:15
Eve treasured every word.  Some day, another life that came through her would crush the serpent that had deceived her in the garden, the place she had known the most intimate life offered to humanity, and redeem creation.   Some day, another woman would come.
“Woman, behold your son,” Jesus spoke to his mother.  She had known His presence from the time he had been in the womb.  She had given birth to him and now she would not leave him in death.  Her sister and Mary of Magdala stood with her at the cross.  And John.  Dear John whom Jesus loved.  “Behold your mother,” the words came in agonizing breaths.  The end was near.  The beginning was near.  His mother would be cared for.   Everything was finished. 
Woman.  In the Greek,  gunai.
Only two places in Scripture is the word woman used so definitively without  “the” or “a” in front of it- in Genesis, when God refers to Eve, and in the New Testament, when Jesus addresses His mother at the wedding in Cana and from the cross (see Genesis 2:23; John 2:4; John 19:27).   Although it was not unusual for a man to use the word gune when addressing a woman, it was unusual that Jesus referred to Mary as gunai.   The English equivalent of gune and gunai sounds harsh, but in the Greek, it was an expression of gentleness.  Gunaiwas a deliberate referral to the fulfillment of the first prophecy of Jesus’ coming in Genesis 3:15. 
Jesus Christ wants us to be women.  He created you to be woman.   When we embrace all that Christ can do in us through the fullness of Christ that dwells in us through the Holy Spirit, we grow up.   We grow into women of grace.


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