Lately many of my friends and family have said “Yes” to the promptings of God and accepted the calling He has on their lives. They have stepped out in faith and on faith to follow God wherever He will lead them. This has warmed my heart and blessed my soul, because I am blessed by their faith! It gives me much joy to see people I love and care about turning away from the ‘Expected Life’ and clinging to the life of abundance God longs to give us all. Whether they said ‘yes’ to the call to pursue a new job, go back to school, move to a new city, commit to a relationship, or simply choose to live a bold life for God, each ‘Yes’ is significant and important. Saying ‘Yes’ is not an easy feat. Every ‘Yes’ to God comes with many sacrifices and requirements. Whenever we say ‘Yes’ to God we must be willing to say ‘no’ to ourselves and what we think is best for our lives. We say ‘no’ to what others think we should be doing. We say ‘no’ to mediocrity and good enough. We say ‘no’ to our own agendas. When we say ‘Yes’ to God, we surrender to His will for our lives and die to our selfish desires. Saying ‘Yes’ is not easy at all, but I am sure it took much prayer, fasting, and calling out to God to be sure they were in line with His will. So I say congratulations to all of you who have made a choice to take the road less traveled and commit to a life devoted to God!
Now because I love you all dearly and have some experience with saying ‘Yes’ to God and stepping out in faith to follow His call, I would like to share something I have learned (and still learning) from this journey of ‘Yes’. First I must say that I am by no means an expert or have figured this all out, but I am in this learning process with the rest of you. God placed this word on my heart, and I must be obedient and share it.
God called me to South Africa for two years (or a little more than that…), and I said ‘Yes’. It was the hardest and greatest ‘Yes’ I have ever said in my life, and every step of this journey has broken me and molded me into the woman I know God destined me to become. But one thing I know for sure about this journey of ‘Yes’ is that the initial ‘Yes’ is only the beginning of a lifelong acceptance of God’s call. The first ‘Yes’ is also the easiest one you will ever say (check out my previous blog The First Yes is the Easiest to find out why). This journey of ‘Yes’ is not by any means easy. It is quite hard actually. Because the more we work towards becoming more like Him, the more our human nature fights to keep us in the world. There will be many tests and trials and twists and turns and up and downs and bumps and bruises. This journey is hard! It requires more than you can even imagine and requires more faith and willingness to keep saying ‘Yes’ to God.
God has given me a word. A new hashtag if you will. And that is #JustRemain. On this journey, God calls us to #JustRemain. God calls us to remain in Him. If we remain in Him then He promises to remain in us. Why remain? Well, there will be many people and things that will come and try to get us to turn our backs to God. Our old life will try to woo us away from God’s teachings. It will tempt us and try to trick us into thinking the old way was a better way. God even says in John 16:33 that we will have trouble in this life and in Isaiah 43 God says will will pass through the waters and through the fires. So it should not be any surprise when hardships come. But despite all of that, God still commands us to #JustRemain.
But not only that, the enemy will hit us even harder than before. Now that we are focusing on living a life dedicated to saying ‘Yes’ to God’s call, the enemy will do everything in its power to get us to curse God. The enemy will try to break us. The enemy will make us feel like we have made the biggest mistake of our lives. It will try to show us what we are really missing out on. The enemy will make us doubt God and His promises. We will be filled with worries and fear. Obstacles will be put in our path. Man will close doors in our faces. Friends and family will turn their backs on us. People we thought we could depend on will stop calling and checking on us. Our world will seem to be falling apart all around us. But in all of that chaos and calamity God still calls us to #JustRemain.
We must remain. Remain focused. Remain in prayer. Remain faithful. Remain Obedient. Remain in God. No matter who or what tries to get us to turn away, we still must remain.
In John 15:1-17, Jesus speaks to His disciples about a very special relationship between us, Jesus and God. God is the gardener, Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches. God, the divine gardener, cuts off every branch that doesn’t bear any fruit. Not only does God remove fruitless branches but God also prunes the branches so they can bear more fruit. If we remain connected to the vine, Jesus, then we will bear much fruit. Jesus tells us in verse 5 to remain in Him and He will remain in us. Jesus speaks the word remain eleven times in these verses. If we fail to remain in Him then we will be like branches that are thrown out and dries up, and these will only be thrown into the fire.
Each time Jesus tells us to remain He gives a promise with it.
He tells us to remain in Him so He will remain in us and so that we can bear fruit. (v. 5)
If we remain in Him and His words remain in us then all of our wishes will be granted. (v.7)
If we remain in His love and keep His commands then our joy will be complete (v. 9-11).
Not only will we have all of these great blessings, but remaining in Jesus takes our relationship with Him to a whole new level. In verses 14 and 15 Jesus calls us His friends! We are not just servant and master, but friends with the Jesus!!!!!
The word remain means to continue to exist after other similar people or things have ceased to do so. So don’t you want to be a part of this elite group? The remains! The group who are friends with God! It is a great feat to step out in faith, but the true test of faith is to remain in that same faith. To continue to walk in that faith even when the walk gets difficult. We must be willing to keep saying ‘Yes’ to God’s call even when the money gets funny, and family and friends stop calling and days get long and hard and we find ourselves alone and empty. Will you remain?
There are many people in the Bible who were a part of this special group, the remains.
David stood up against giants even when others said he was crazy and too small. God called him to be King of a great nation despite being just a shepherd boy. He remained.
Joseph stayed faithful even when his own brothers sold him into slavery. Then after receiving a higher post was falsely accused of rape and thrown into prison. He remained.
Abraham left his home, family, and everything he knew for a land he knew nothing about. He even was willing to kill the son he had prayed for and longed for just to do God’s will. He remained.
Mary was willing to risk her engagement to a great man, her reputation, and possibility of being ostracized to carry God’s child. She remained.
Jesus was willing to give up heaven to come to earth and be betrayed, lied about, beaten, spat upon, ridiculed, and persecuted for people He knew one day would sin against Him just so those same people could have a chance at abundant life. He remained.
All of the ones who remained in God were extremely blessed and highly favored. Not only were they blessed but so were their families and descendants. Despite all of the hard times and lonely times God never turned His back to them.
God calls us all to remain! Despite all of the hardship we will face! We must remain. Why must we remain? In order to bear fruit. Not just any fruit but fruit that will last. (v. 16) God was and is always there and God will always be there with you. So #JustRemain. Post this on your wall, refrigerator, mirror, or wherever. Just make it very visible as a reminder of God’s will. No matter what…#JustRemain