Written by Robbie Cansler
From her column Kingdom Come
We used to sing a chorus on a fairly regular basis in my childhood church. It was written by Lynn Edward Keesecker and entitled “Yes, Lord, Yes.” The lyrics express someone’s total commitment to trusting God’s will regardless of the circumstances.
In that small Michigan congregation, it was ingrained into my heart that when the Holy Spirit calls, you respond with “Yes.” I remember the stories of those in the Bible who said “Yes” to the Lord: Mary and Joseph, Samuel, Paul, and others. The ways in which their positive responses transformed their lives and the lives of those around them always spoke to my heart.
As I got older, I heard more stories of those in my own church community who said, “Yes, Lord.” I watched my mother open our home and extend our table to others, and persons in our church community give away mittens and scarves to those in need during long, cold winters. There were so many ways in which people responded “Yes, Lord” to wherever the Spirit was leading.
Yet, I don’t know if I fully understood how important this attitude was until the Spirit began speaking to me about big things. Big things like going into ministry, despite my desire to have a job that was more lucrative and flexible. Big things like planting a church without any idea where our income would come from. Big things like opening our home to guests in need, including a refugee family. The Spirit has led us to do these and more, and still we continue to say “Yes.”
Saying “Yes” has not always been easy. It has often meant saying “No” to a lot of other things, usually things that the world prizes as important—things like comfort, extra money, more stuff. But saying “Yes” has always been the best and most satisfying choice.
I have experienced greater things when I have said “Yes,” like the generosity of the church, the richness of the Kingdom of God, and the depth and vulnerability of the community. I have also found that when we lay everything at the feet of Jesus with a big “Yes, Lord!” attached to it, nothing goes to waste.
My husband studied French in high school and college. He thought it was not a very worthwhile language to know in the United States, until an African refugee family moved in with us. Suddenly, he was using his French language skills every day. I spent my first years of church planting as a substitute teacher in the public school system. Now, that experience serves me as I continue to build relationships with others, and advocate for education for those in my church community. Nothing goes to waste when we say “Yes” to God.
As Nazarenes we believe in prevenient grace, which means the Holy Spirit is always moving, is always speaking, is always calling out to people, even those who don’t recognize it yet, so there are always opportunities for us to say “Yes, Lord.” They aren’t always big ones, like responding to a call to ministry or opening a home to others, but they are ever present. Sometimes it is evidenced by our willingness to let go of our busyness or pride. Sometimes it's shown when we let go of our stuff, that we may be generous.
It is my fervent prayer that we as Nazarene pastors will be people who often say “Yes, Lord.” Regardless of how foolish it might look to the world, that we would leap with open arms into the embrace of Jesus, and allow the crazy journey of Kingdom work to happen—to look around and ask “Where is the Spirit leading?” and to follow His guidance with our whole hearts. May our response always be “Yes, Lord” to His will that the world might see and know this God of love whom we serve.
Rev. Robbie Cansler is an urban church planter/substitute public school teacher who serves the Mission Church of the Nazarene in Hammond, Indiana.