The normally spirited and devout African American congregation gathered weekly in the red brick structure that was situated on a busy corner. However, on this particular Sunday, a new year was dawning and a reverent hush fell over the beautiful and ornate oak pews and the worshipers who occupied them. Not a word was spoken…Not a note was piped through the antique pump organ…Not a chorus lilted from the choir loft. Indeed, for forty-five minutes nothing but silence and anticipation hung in the air. Finally, from the back of the stately old church came a lone voice. It was followed by another from the opposite corner. Smack dab in the middle to the front row and all the points between others gave utterance to their stirring hearts...Indeed, one at a time, men and women and children rose to their feet, but harmoniously and simply said, “Yes, Lord!” The pastor sat and nodded in silence as his congregants spoke those few, but profound, words. Finally, he, too, stood and lifted his eyes heavenward and declared, “You have heard our answer, Lord…What do you want to speak to us?”
My beloved friends, while almost half of 2016 has past, you may find yourself clutching onto the heels of last year’s challenges and joys, heartaches and triumphs, and failures and victories. But right now would you determine to be available to God no matter what He asks of you this year? Perhaps, you are simply waiting to see what the future holds before you respond to HIM. It is a choice that we must each make.
Indeed, it is a choice I find myself making repeatedly--not just yearly, but daily. However, I recall vividly standing unaware of what the future would hold on a crisp New Year’s Day in 2007. Standing on the threshold of a brand new year I spoke my YES to Him--committing to follow Him wherever He would lead me that upcoming year. When I made that choice, I had no idea that my husband would suddenly die or that I would not celebrate my twenty-ninth wedding anniversary. I never dreamed that by saying, “Yes, Lord, I am available to you no matter what,” meant that I would plan a funeral, face months of stressful and difficult business decisions, and sit alone night after night. I never dreamed my house would face termites, mice, and a sneaky snake (that’s a story for another blog, my friends). I never dreamed that two other deaths would follow that same year. And yet, what I did know has continued to be embedded deeper into my innermost being with each passing year. And that ever growing, ever deepening knowledge has prompted me to confidently choose again and again to say YES to my Lord…
What is it that I know, precious friends? I know that “though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, His unfailing love for me will not be shaken nor His covenant of peace be removed from me.” (See Isaiah 54:10) And brothers and sisters, I know that “though He has made me to see troubles, many and bitter, He will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth He will again bring me up.” (See Psalm 71:20) Yes, I know in greater measure that He is the gateway or the entrance to true life—a life where I can “go in and out and find pasture or abundance.” (See John 10:9) Oh, but, friends, I also know that all that He has required of me has been provided in me! (See John 15:5)
Yes, we need not fear what the future holds for us. We can say YES before a single event unfolds, for we have His unending love, His abiding presence, His undeserved grace, and His abundant provision to rely on daily. As Emerson said, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. Let me close my ramblings with the words of a dear, old song:
Many things about tomorrow
I don't seem to understand--
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand!