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I needed to learn to say no sometimes, even to good things, in order to say yes to Jesus.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28–30 (MSG)
One of the most dangerous words in the English language is the word yes. Many of us grew up learning to try to make people happy—in the name of unselfishness, we took care of everyone except ourselves. We said yes indiscriminately. The word yes seems so nice. And sometimes it is the appropriate response.
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We think it is more generous, nicer, even more Christian to say yes. However, every time we say yes to one thing, we have said no to an infinite number of other possibilities. So we have to choose carefully what we say yes and no to.
A few years ago, I had said “yes” too many times. I had speaking engagements three out of four weekends for several months in a row. When I described my travel schedule to people, I actually would tear up in frustration. I needed a rest.
Frederick Buechner writes, “When you find tears in your eyes, especially unexpected tears, it is well to pay the closest attention.” So I did. And I realized I was tired and burned out. I needed to learn the unforced rhythms of grace, to say yes sometimes, but also to say no sometimes, even to good things, in order to say yes to Jesus, to keeping company with Him. I began to see that living freely and lightly requires me to say no, so that I can say yes to Jesus.
Faith Step: Reread today’s verses. Which word or phrase resonates with you? Spend some time journaling about how you feel. What is one thing you can say no to, so that you can say yes to Jesus?
Keri Wyatt Kent is the author of many devotionals, including Simple Compassion and Oxygen. She writes and speaks to help people slow down, simplify, and rest so that they can listen to God. Keri is a member of Willow Creek Community Church, where she has taught, led groups and volunteered in a variety of ministries for more than two decades. She and her husband, Scot, live with their teenage son and daughter in Illinois.