Will You Yield?

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This Post first appeared in the Christian Community News Magazine published by Papa’s Pantry. Please take minute and check out this wonderful community ministry and how they are coming alongside families in need to combat economic and financial crisis.

Will You Yield?

There is a yield sign at the entrance of my neighborhood, positioned just for those drivers making a right turn into the neighborhood. There is also a stoplight at this same intersection that regulates the flow of traffic on the main street. There is little ambiguity about a stoplight. Red means stop. Green means go. Yellow… well, yellow seems to be open for interpretation. But we all know yellow leads to red.

This yield sign, however, seems to be more ambiguous. The definition of yield is not unclear. It means to give way, to surrender, or to submit. When we yield seems to be the question.

Legally, a yield sign means to slow down slow down and possibly stop in order to see what the other cars are doing. The cars already in the intersection or on the road have the right-of-way. For cars coming into our neighborhood, the driver making that right turn should be looking for cars in the intersection preparing to make a left turn and should stop to allow them to do so. They have the right-of-way.

Unfortunately, most people ignore that yield sign. They make their turn, barely slowing down, and without a glance to see if there is a reason for them to yield. I confess. I do too. Sometimes I don’t even recall seeing the yield sign, let alone acknowledging that I should somehow act differently because of it.

I can’t help but marvel at how like that turn lane with the yield sign we can be. I think most of us live in the turn lane and, for those who profess to follow Christ, God’s Word is a ginormous yield sign that begs the question …

Will we yield to God?

If you attend church, you probably hear this concept taught more in terms of submitting than yielding. This is a daily, sometimes hourly, practice of assessing our thoughts, actions, words, habits, decisions, and attitudes through the filter of God’s Word to discern how we need to yield to his instructions. This is the place where we might discover that we don’t have the right-of-way, where we need to consider how our responses might impact others, and we may even encounter a direct command to stop.

But I wonder. How often do we simply blow right through it without even slowing down to assess the damage that could occur by our failure to yield?

Submission is not a popular idea. As my pastor often says, we like our stuff, how we like it, and when we like it. This attitude doesn’t pair well with submission does it? Submitting means we don’t get our way first. We may think of submission as being beaten down, a door mat, mousy, lacking, or weak. True submission for a Christian is anything but. It’s active, purposeful, and powerful.

“The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God, it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.” (Romans 8:7 NIV)

Yielding at the intersection does not happen by accident. A driver has to be aware of his or her surroundings, acknowledge the call to yield, and prepare to slow down or even stop.

Submitting our lives to Christ does not come naturally or happen by accident either. It takes purposeful preparation.

Submitting our lives to Christ takes purposeful planning. Click To Tweet

Our natural inclination is to be governed by what Paul refers to as our “flesh”; the person we were before receiving salvation through Jesus Christ. Our old self is hostile to God, and does not desire to yield to his life-giving Word. Our old self will react to situations in anger, pride, greed, and selfishness, to name a few.

Our natural inclination is not to hold our tongues, to turn the other cheek, or to speak only what builds others up. No sir. However, God’s Word is clear that this is exactly how we should respond. Bending our natural inclinations to yield to the Word of God takes planning and preparation through the study of God’s Word. Study is what transforms our minds, informs our decisions, and aligns us with God.

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7 NIV)

As I prepared this article I heard the news report of a fatal wreck caused by a driver who failed to yield the right-of-way. Two young people lost their lives. Death is an extreme, but very real consequence of our failure to yield.

We have an adversary who wants us to fail. He delights in wrecked relationships, burdens of guilt and shame, crushing debt brought on by selfish indulgence, splintered friendships, and wounded hearts. We may not be physically dead, but everything that matters is.

Yet, James tells us that active yielding to God causes our adversary to flee.

Yielding to God causes our adversary to flee and brings us freedom. Click To Tweet

Holding our tongue protects the hearts of our loved ones from words spoken in anger. Bending our desire to splurge on the latest and greatest gadget to conform with God’s Word regarding money ensures we are not enslaved by our jobs and our stuff. Surrendering our habits of indulgence to align with God’s Word on purity and health releases us from shame, guilt, and self-condemnation.

When we live protected, conformed, freed, and released, our enemy has no power over us in those areas. He cannot stand against a life yielded to God. It is only where we do not yield that he gains a foothold.

“These instructions are not empty words – they are your life!” (Deut 32:47a NLT)

That God’s Word brings life was true for Moses and the Israelites and it’s true for us today. We won’t always get it right. Sometimes we’ll run right through that yield sign of God’s Word and there will be wreckage we have to deal with. When this happens, go back to the Word of God and let him have the final word. Yield, my friend, and you will find life.

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I never wanted to be THAT neighbor

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I returned home from walking my dog to find a note taped to my mailbox along with a bag of dog – well, you know.

My neighbor from across the street witnessed me allowing my dog to do his business in the natural, wooded area of their property and then burying said business under a pile of pine straw and decomposing leaves before heading on out for our walk.

My neighbor, whom I have not spoken 6 words to in the 14 years we have lived here and probably does not know my name, came out, found the buried business, bagged it up and left it for me with a note. She called me out for my actions and then said if it happened again, she’d report me to the HOA. Not particularly friendly, I thought.

Justifications ran through my mind at the moment of reading the note:

It’s the woods.

Not their grass, not their landscaped area, the woods.

The same woods the deer poop in.

Far, far away from their house.

The woods, where tree limbs fall and stay until they decay.

THE WOODS.

I didn’t “cover” it up – I intentionally buried it.

It’s biodegradable and will be gone in a week.

Then it hit me.

I was “that” neighbor. You know who “that” neighbor is: The crazy one, the rude one, the loud one, the one who doesn’t ever maintain their property, the one who works on their car in the driveway at midnight, the one who lets their dog bark all night, the one who starts their yard work at sunrise on Saturday morning. We have all had “that” neighbor. No one wants to be “that” neighbor.

Yet here I was, confronted with the knowledge that I was who I didn’t want to be.

I am honored to guest post at The Glorious Table. This first appeared there on September 15th. Please join me there for the rest of this and discover how we go from being that neighbor to the neighbor. The one Jesus calls us to be.

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Light For When The Darkness Comes

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Where were you when…. The total eclipse of 2017 occurred?

I was at work standing on the top deck of our parking garage sharing glasses with a stranger because I hadn’t gotten around to buying my own. The news reported that somewhere in the neighborhood of $7B (that is a whole bunch of zeros) would be lost today due to un-productivity. I admit, I contributed to that number as I watched the eclipse happen several times across the nation via the NASA observatory telescopes that were streaming live throughout the day.

Zoomed in on the sun, the telescope tracked the moon as it moved its way across the face of the sun. Ever so slowly, the visible sun became a crescent, then a sliver and then… with what looked like a last hurrah bright flash of light, the sun was snuffed out. Total darkness.

With the same abruptness, like the lighting of a gas-stove burner, the darkened disc of the moon was surrounded by a halo of light. The telescope zoomed even further in and you could see solar flares in the halo. Then, again, it was abruptly dark. Ever so subtly, a tiny sliver appeared as the sun and moon continued their paths, growing ever larger until the sun was revealed in all of its bright glory. It was startlingly breathtaking. The whole thing took less than 5 minutes.

The eclipse was visible in some fashion everywhere in our nation: from total eclipse to 50%. In Georgia, where I live, we were in the high 90% range. We would not witness the complete darkening of the sun. But it would be pretty darned close. Based on what I saw from the telescope, I had certain expectations of what I might see in real life.

I stood there on the roof of that parking deck sharing glasses with that kind stranger, looking up at the almost 100% eclipse. It was the tiniest sliver of sun. And yet, if someone had walked outside not knowing what was going on, they would have simply thought it was a bit hazy – certainly not dark. Not even close. I was initially tempted to be disappointed when I was overcome by the remarkable truth God was showing us – all of us – believers and non-believers alike – in that moment.

From the perspective of the telescope, all you saw was the sun and the moon. And when the moon crossed in front of the sun, the world (my computer screen) went black. Without any other context, it might be tempting to believe that darkness can triumph over light.

Photo by Aaron Wilson on Unsplash

The truth is, the darkness of the moon could not block the light. The tiniest little sliver was enough to make it seem like the middle of the day (which it was). The mere presence of the sun behind the moon was enough to cast a dim glow even in the darkest areas. Videos from total eclipse areas bear witness to this phenomenon. It was dark enough to trigger streetlights and fireworks. But it was never totally dark.

The presence of light always triumphs over darkness. Always.

God’s Word is the light. Jesus is the light. God showed off today. He made a point. Let’s not miss it.

The presence of light always triumphs over darkness. Always. Click To Tweet

There is so much we can take from this. I don’t want to tell you how to apply this thought. I’m going to leave that up to you and the Lord. I’d love to hear your comments and have you share the “light” of God’s Word that is meaningful to you though. Please do.

I know what it means for me. Go. Be a light.

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