My journey with Jesus began at a very young age. I know there are some who would be cynical about that. They might believe that hearing the Gospel at a young age sets us up to do or believe whatever our parents or whoever happens to be around us does.
That’s not untrue – in fact, it’s very true. Youthful minds are influenced by those around them and often values and beliefs are formed while young. That’s why youth involved in dangerous or harmful behaviours are such a concern. We know they will likely carry much of that into adulthood.
I think the difference, at least in my case, is that first of all the values and associated behaviours of my parents and influencers were positive – their expectations kept me away from things that would have been or could have been harmful to me. Secondly, they pointed me towards friendships that were highly positive. I did have friends who made bad decisions but that is for another time.
What I am saying here is this. That faith goes beyond just influence. It goes to transformation. I knew at 7 years of age the experience of being forgiven. I knew what it was like to feel the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. I could not explain the theology, but I could tell you about the experience.
So age 7 was my first yes. From there were many other times of saying yes. In fact, as I reflect it was times that I said no that form my framework for regret. I do regret that despite the good I knew came from saying yes, there were times when I said no.
The Bible confirms that a yes to God brings a blessing – whether that blessing is missing out on the positive effects of God’s leading and guidance often brings consequences that have a lasting effect – health, relationships, service, and experience.
At age 14 God did a wonderful work in my heart and again I found myself confirming that by saying yes to God more peace, more joy, and more good things (good things do not mean wealth or a lack of difficulties, don’t make that mistake) came to me. In contrast, was the sorrow or regret when I did not obey God.
It became the plea of my ministry, especially as a pastor. “Believe the Lord and you will never regret it” was often my counsel to people who I met up with. I have not changed my opinion or my conviction.
I have, as a way of reflection, been thinking about the question, is there ever a time when you might say “can you say yes to Jesus too much?” And in answer what are the things which we say yes to Jesus in or about, and what are the implications?
First of all
Yes, yes, yes…how many times can you say yes to Jesus?
From Isaiah 53
But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—
our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.
We thought he brought it on himself,
that God was punishing him for his own failures.
But it was our sins that did that to him,
that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins!
He took the punishment, and that made us whole.
Through his bruises we get healed.
We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost.
We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way.
And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong,
on him, on him.
7-9 He was beaten, he was tortured,
but he didn’t say a word.
Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered
and like a sheep being sheared,
he took it all in silence.
Justice miscarried, and he was led off—
and did anyone really know what was happening?
He died without a thought for his own welfare,
beaten bloody for the sins of my people.
They buried him with the wicked,
threw him in a grave with a rich man,
Even though he’d never hurt a soul
or said one word that wasn’t true.
It was his sacrifice that lies in the background of our daily decisions. It is why for me it has been easy to say yes to Jesus. It is why whatever inconvenience comes to my life or whatever difficulties are before me I know that the sacrifice of Jesus laid the foundation for my life to be built upon.
So how can I not say yes. That’s how I have viewed my life.