When You Say Yes

The hike through the jungle swamp took five hours. We’d done it twice in the last week. My clothes were soaked through with sweat and the mud stains stretched up to my calves. We’d slept under mosquito nets that night in the village house, the humidity making us go in and out of sleep.

Now we ride on a boat down the Ramu river, halfway home. I miss my kids who I haven’t talked to since we left town. The last eight days in the jungle have been beautiful; I have loved connecting with Papua New Guinean students in the bush Bible college who are hungry for God and hungry to grow. My heart is full.

Whenever I make these trips out bush, I always think about the fact that, while I love nature, at heart I’m really just a city girl. I like cleanliness and mattresses and overhead showers and refrigerated food. But somehow, I’ve ended up with a life where I often go without those things.

My life has been largely marked by a series of yeses.

It started with a five year old girl who wanted Jesus to live in her heart. My mama always says something in my eyes changed after I’d said that prayer. And then that little girl walked out at her kindergarten graduation and declared before God and all those witnesses that she was going to be a preacher when she grew up. Who knew the significance of a child’s yes.

Years later, I said yes to the man who sits in this boat with me now. And every day since then I’ve said yes again, recommitting myself through the good and bad, the ugly and the beautiful. I said yes to him when God spoke unreached people and Bible translation to his heart.

And I said yes five years ago to full-time mission work and to Papua New Guinea.

All these yeses. A simple word that leads to a lot of change, a lot of submission and a surrendering of rights.

I said yes and Jesus found a home in me. I said yes and I was someone’s wife. I said yes and my life turned wild, upside-down.

And then one day I’m riding down the Ramu river in Papua New Guinea looking down at my unshaven, mosquito bitten, dirt-caked-on legs and thinking to myself, “How did I get here? How is this my life?

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If you let Him, Jesus will ruin your life. He’ll change your wants, your desires. He’ll ask you to lay down your money and follow Him. He’ll ask you say goodbye to your father, mother, sisters and brothers, to your comfort, your safety, and your five year plan. He’ll ask you to look foolish in front of people whose opinion you value. He’ll ask you to put Him before your spouse, your children, and your own life.

Who wants to follow such a man?

But He also says this: I’ll never leave you, I’ll never forsake you. I’m with you until the very end. You’re never alone. I’m for you. I love you.

And He gets it. He left the comforts of Heaven and the seat next to His Father. He adjusted to a life filled with dirt and discomfort and imperfect people. He became a servant. You feel like your life is crazy? Try being the God-Man.

His life was marked by a series of yeses.

Yes to humanity. Yes to carpentry. Yes to servitude and to dealing with people that were vastly different from him. Yes in the garden, yes to a shameful death on the cross.

Sometimes I marvel at the adventure my life has become. On the Ramu I feel the wildness of saying yes to Jesus. At home with my kids in the day-to-day slump, I don’t feel it as much, but those are the days when my yes matters the most. Yes to mundane, yes to perfunctory, yes to joy. Because the every day yeses makes way for the big ones that turn life topsy-turvy.

If you let Him, Jesus will ruin your life. But you won’t look back.