When I was 5 years old, I learned the importance of saying, “Yes.” It changed my theology of ministry for the rest of my life.
My family’s church holds services outdoors in a homeless-congested park in downtown San Francisco (we call it Church in the Park—be jealous of our creativity). My dad was setting up the sound system when he noticed a man far from the crowd, in a corner by the gate, looking down at the cement. As the man rose to get up, my dad handed me a Bible and a pamphlet about Jesus, and said, “Go, run, hurry-- give this to that man, say ‘Jesus loves you,’ and come back to me.” I replied, “Yes, Daddy.” And ran.
I was 5. I had not yet discovered the beauty of rebellion, the questioning of advisement, or the distain towards authority. Rest assured, those glorious years were just around the corner, but at that moment in time-- at 5 years old, I had no reason to ever question my dad. I had a good relationship with my dad. If he told me to do something, I didn’t hesitate, I didn’t question him-- I didn’t need to know why he was asking, I just needed to say, “Yes,” and do it.
Life was so very simple.
Was there a time in life when we approached God this way? Was there a time when our desire to please Him was so deeply rooted within us, that when he asked us to do something, we didn’t hesitate—it was enough that he said to? Nowadays I find myself a part of a society that wants to analyze the call of God. When he says, “Go,” I want to know, “Why? What will happen?” When he says, “Go to them,” I want to know… “Why them?” When he says, “Hurry,” I want to look back, pause, question and figure out what the pros and cons are of me hurrying. When he tells me to do anything at all, I want to know first and foremost what the outcome will be. It’s no longer enough that He said to.
Indeed, we have lost our theology of obedience.
“Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.”
We’ve heard this. But do we get this? We know this by heart. But does that translate to how we live our lives? The Son of God came into the world to save us from eternity without God—the biggest event in our Christian history, and as he was going back to Heaven to be united with His Father, this call was in the last phrase He chose to say on Earth. This was the last thing He told us to do.
That is a very big deal.
But we want to know “Why?” We want to pause and figure out our life plan. We want to rethink our reputations, the costs, and if the reward is worth it. We want this call explained, before we say, “Yes, Daddy.”
Because let’s be honest, we’re not 5. We’ve had some trial and error. We’ve had some doubts about God. We’ve been exposed to rejection. We’ve had some lame authority figures. And as adults who have it all figured out and know what’s best for ourselves, someone merely telling us to do something, is rarely enough for us to get up and go.
I remember running to that man on the street, handing him the Bible and pamphlet, skipping back to my dad and exclaiming, “I did it!” and not understanding what I did, or what the impact could have been. My dad would later tell me that night, and try to explain it to me in the years to come, the events that transpired that day.
“After the service, I went up to that man you gave those things to earlier today. He told me that before you came to him, he was about to leave. He had never been to this park before. But he needed somewhere to sit and think. He had a gun in his pocket, Hosanna. There was a man in the building behind us that murdered his niece, and he was about to go into the building and kill that man. But he told me, ‘After that little girl ran up to me, told me Jesus loved me, and handed me this pamphlet, I read it, and I couldn’t go through with it. I want Jesus instead. I have to change my life.’ Do you understand that, Hosanna? I led him to the Lord and he didn’t kill somebody today. Do you get that?”
I remember not getting it. I remember saying, “That’s good, right Dad? Are you happy I did what you told me to?”
My dad smiled, and probably realized then what it took me years to see: the joy of ministry is not the joy of being patted on the back; the joy of ministry is the joy in obeying God. I didn't need to know the outcome. I just knew that he said to-- and me saying "Yes" made him happy.
Decades later, as I live a life striving to obey this call, I remember this story. Days when I’m tired, days when I doubt my abilities, days when I want to analyze God and figure out why I’m doing what I’m doing, I remember this. I remember that man on the street. I didn’t know his story. But I ran. I didn’t know he had a gun. But I hurried towards him. I didn’t know he had the potential to turn his eternity around that day; I didn’t know the impact that small act would have on his life; I didn’t know why on earth I was running down that street. But it wasn’t my job to know. It was my job to obey.
There are times we want to know the impact we have on people in order for our sacrifice and obedience to be worth it. I hope we get set free from that disgusting pride. I hope that you and I reconnect with this child-like heart of obedience. We don’t need to know why God is telling us to hurry towards people. We don’t need to know how we impacted them after.
Life is actually, so very simple.
We just need to say, “Yes.” Because He said to. Lives could be hanging in the balance, relying on us… to not hesitate.
“Go, run, hurry….”