We are going through the “no” stage with our soon-to-be 2 year-old granddaughter, Jensen. Some call it the “Terrible Twos,” but I have never liked that designation. What I have learned about this developmental stage for Jensen is she is “just trying to express her growing independence and does not have the language skills to easily express her needs.”
No matter how long that stage lasts, it is still too long. Hot on its heels is another developmental stage — the “me want” stage. Unfortunately, this fixation lasts longer than the “no” stage—like from age 2 until about 106. “Me want” is the cornerstone of our consumer culture and it is in full bloom during this season of the year.
Our culture has done an emphatically good job at leaving the “no” stage far behind. Technological advances have helped us come to the point where we do not have to say “no.” We do not have to accept boundaries and limitations, or to pick and choose. We do not want to “give up” anything or “lose” one thing. “We want” it all, and we have come up with ingenious ways to make that dream a reality.
All this “no” and “yes” business (another way to say “me want” is “I just can’t say no to myself!”) got me to thinking about the power of each of these one word declarations. For instance, …
• How can we say “No” to the powers and principalities of this world?
• By saying “Yes” to the ultimate power and authority, God.
In fact, the necessary “no” cannot be invoked without the affirming “yes.”
Jesus said “no” to the Devil because he had already said “yes” to the Father. Jesus said “no” to the seductive words of the tempter because he said “yes” to the authority of Scripture. You say to your child, no, you cannot play in the street. That necessary no is only possible because you, as a loving parent, have already said yes to your commitment to safeguard the health of your child.
You say no to drugs because you have said yes to clean living.
You say no to revenge because you have said yes to forgiveness.
You say no to temptation because you have said yes to self-control.
You say no to Satan because you have said yes to the Spirit.
You say no to racism because you have said yes to love.
You say no to oppression because you have said yes to justice.
You say no to crankiness because you have said yes to kindness.
When you say “yes” to God, that “yes” means you are also saying “no” to something else. Think and pray about this as you look at your commitment card this morning. Commitment at its best means we are going to find ways to say yes to God with our time, talent and financial resources.
So, how about a good old “yeah God!”