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Yes and No

10 November 2019 - Novato, California

“Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:37)


As I near the Pacific Ocean and the end of my walk across the country, I have been thinking about what I have said yes and no to on this walk. The biggest “yes” was to the original call I heard from God to do this, back in November of 2008. (I kept saying yes for over 10 years before I finally began the walk last March, and I have recommitted to that yes every day for the past 8+ months!) An example of a “no” was about ten days ago, when I was walking on a two-lane road in El Dorado Hills that had no shoulder, and cars were flying by me at more than 55 mph. After about three miles of walking in a ditch, I finally decided that I wasn’t going to do it anymore, since I wanted to maximize my chances of staying alive. I got off the road and stopped earlier than I planned to that day. And the next morning, I found a point directly north of where I had been the day before, and began my walk along a much safer road.


The words quoted above were part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, in a portion where he was talking about not swearing at all - by heaven, by earth, by Jerusalem, etc. Just let your words be yes or no, Jesus says. “[A]nything more than this comes from the evil one.”


It seems to me that it is very important for us to pay attention to what we are saying yes to and what we are saying no to. These can range from the small things (“Would you like a drink of water?”) to the big things (“Will you marry me?”; “Will you follow me?”; “Do you want the job?”; “Do you want to have children?”).


When you think about it, the trajectory of our lives is made up of all the big and little decisions we have made along the way - ones where we said yes and ones where we said no. And if we have not always made the best choices, it’s not as if God doesn’t give us second chances or fifth chances or 20th chances! God is a God of compassion and grace.


My prayer is that you and I say a conscious “yes” to the things that really give life, and that we say a conscious “no” to the things that - if we were to say yes - would harm life (either another person’s, mine, or the planet’s).


Give us wisdom, Lord. Give us the wisdom of your Spirit, so we know when we should be saying yes and when we should be saying no.


Perhaps we can all pause on this day and reflect on where we have been saying yes and where we have been saying no. Have you said yes to the things that you really wanted to do? Do you feel good about the times you have said no? Are your “yes muscles” and your “no muscles” equally strong?

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