As another year draws to a close, and my household ponders afresh our habit of reviewing the major events of the last 12 months before considering our plans for the next, it occurs to me that planning boils down in the end to a series of Yes and No answers to various and multitudinous questions.
Andrew Matthias, for instance. Lauren’s and my seventh son, and eighth child, was born to us in the first month of 2022. That fact is the summary conclusion of Yes being the answer to some questions, and No being the answer to others.
For another example, our two eldest sons, Josiah and Eli, spending a week over the summer, visiting with our old friends in Montana
For just one more illustration, my job change in October involved announcing a No to continued employment with one company, and an answer of Yes to a different company.
Reasons come into all these answers, to be sure. And we can give all manner of explanation, justifications, or rationales. But at the end of the day, these are all a way of giving others a window into why we gave the simple answer that we did. If you want to get even more in-depth, even unpacking the why goes back to Yes and No, whether to principles, priorities, or practical considerations.
All of life is binary, then. And even when we have many options to choose from, about how to spend our time, attention, energy, or resources, to choose any one option, regardless how many options there were, when we are finite creatures, is to say Yes to that option, and to say No, at least for a time, to all the rest.
Wisdom is found in saying Yes to the right things, and No, or Not Yet, where we cannot in good conscience say Yes.
How do we know which we should answer to in a particular situation has everything to do with our affections. And this is where the Greatest Commandment comes into play, to to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind. Subsequently, and consequently, it follows that our obedience to “the second which is like it” is informed in all its affirmatives and negatives.
“For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us,” as the Apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 1:20.
To this we often rejoin, and just as often struggle to understand, what it can mean that our prayers sometimes seem not to be answered, or else to be answered in ways other than we wanted them to be. But even there, as in the rest of pursuing life and godliness, Jesus sets us the example and pattern.
“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine be done.”
This is a rather dreary prescription at face value. Taking the long view, however – and this is the eternal view we are called to take when we are in Christ – nothing could be happier or more blessed. This is because the rewards are life everlasting, in perfect peace and happiness, enjoying God and His people forever.
Yet we are still here now, and that is what we have coming. So while we are here, God must have good works for us to do. Moreover, He still has blessings and gifts for us in this life. Therefore, to the end of making the most of the time He has given us, as well as the opportunities, my house and I will consider what ways God has both rewarded and permitted us to be tried in the past year, with a particular focus on what such can teach us about where we presently are, to the end of making good choices of Yes and No in the next year.
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