The inference of being a “yes man” isn’t good, a person with no opinion of his own (at least not one he’s willing to share). It’s someone who gives in quickly and kowtows to others: “Yes sir. Yes ma’m. Whatever you say.”
Last week President Obama was looking for some yes-men in Congress. In a sound bite played repeatedly he said, “When is somebody on the other side of the aisle going to take ‘yes’ for an answer?”
We all love a “yes”. As my son Klaus puts it, “Green lights are better than red ones,” and generally that’s true. But the ultimate “yes” is the one we hope to get from God after laying out our requests. “Pleeease,” we say, then hope for a “yes” a.s.a.p.
But what about him? While he’s deciding to answer with a “yes” or “no”, is it possible he’s looking for a few yes-es from us in return? When he asks if we’re willing to do something difficult or fight a painful battle, do we tell him “yes” or “no”?
Henry Blackaby puts it well in his book EXPERIENCING PRAYER WITH JESUS: “Let this be your heart’s desire: ‘Lord, whatever you say, my answer is yes, because that’s the only worthy response to you’.” So we’re supposed to become yes-men? Yes-women?
As I read that statement from the comfort of my lazy-boy, feet up, Coke Zero in hand, I could say, “Whatever it is, Lord! I’ll say ‘yes’!”
But when Nate got rapid-growth pancreatic cancer and was told he had only a short time to live, it wasn’t quite as easy to give an affirmative response. Later, when he began failing and God asked if I was willing to be a widow, my response was far from affirmative: “Do I have to?”
In life’s battle-trenches, we feel we’re doing well for God if we go through trouble without raging at him. But the response he longs to see during our suffering (nearly impossible) is a strong “yes”, even if spoken through tears.
Despite my own failures, I think success is more likely if I keep telling the Lord I want to be a yes-woman for him. If I’ve said the yes-word long before I’ve hit the suffering, then, when the pain begins, my will tries to follow the verbal commitment. It might only be “Yes, I’ll try,” or “Yes, I hope so,” but if my “yes” beats me to the trouble, one of these days I’ll do it right when I get there.
Jesus modeled it perfectly: “Not what I want, Father, but ‘yes’ to your will for me, no matter how excruciating.” And that’s the enthusiastic yes-response God hopes he’ll see in all of us.
“Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.” (Isaiah 26:8)