What would happen if we just said yes?
“So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many are called, but few are chosen.” Matthew 20:16 (KJV)
There is blessing and promise on the other side of discomfort. When I choose to say yes every day, to keep living a life full of the fruits of the spirit, then I have the power to impact the lives of those who see me living. Just by living in The Spirit of God, to say yes to Him every day, I am set apart. I am chosen and called to say yes.
About a year ago, I was attending the She Is Free women’s conference my church Liberty Church hosts every year in New York City. Ordinarily, I would offer to volunteer, but it was my first time attending the conference and I wanted to “not miss a single thing” and wanted to get the “full experience.” A couple of my close friends, Louisa and Trish, asked me a few times to volunteer and I politely declined. After a few more asks, I felt a tug on my heart to just take the leap and volunteer. And boy was I glad I did. My station was in the green room, which was where the speakers and hosts of the conference spent some down time in between sessions. Not only did I get to meet and speak with some of the leaders whose books I’ve read and podcasts I listen to, but I received a word from Kris Vallotton that would ultimately change my entire experience at the conference. Because I was expectant and because I had said yes to volunteering, I was at the right place and the right time to receive that word. Kris looked at me, and he saw me. He said yes to stepping out in boldness, and gave me a word of encouragement. He said I was a dreamer (…and then I broke down crying… because obviously…). At the end of the day, my ability to say “yes” is not just for me, but for someone else.
So today, I say yes. Yes to stepping out of my comfort zone. Yes to something I would normally turn down. Yes to something that I don’t feel like doing. And it’s not enough to say yes once, but I need to keep saying yes. I need to actively choose to do the things that push my boundaries and push me out of my comfort zone. I need to actively choose to be bold, to be a bit more curious, to be living and leading a life that that this world calls a bit “odd”.
More often than not, life seems very monotonous, very routine. I often find myself trying to break out of routine becuase I get bored with doing the same thing over and over. Although I am a planner by nature, I thrive on the unexpected and variety.
I have looked at monotony the way that I feel most people see it: for its negative, repetitive connotation. I’d say to myself “I’ll be stuck doing this same thing for the rest of my life,” or ask the question “what good can come out of just repeating yourself and not learning anything new?”
What I seemed to have been missing over the years is that monotony can be seen as a discipline. By doing the same task over and over (and doing it well), I have the opportunity to build a reputation for consistency, for accuracy, for reliability. Practicing the same task over and over again can be healthy, becuase it builds habits so that you have room to grow in other areas of your life. When you become disciplined through repetition, you then gain that skill and then can graduate to bigger and better things (while retaining all that you have learned). If you move on before you mastered a skill, it can feel like you’ve lost your sense of direction.
Now, I have some new questions for myself. I’ll challenge myself by asking “is there anything I’m doing now that seems mundane or tedious, but is actually building my character and/or my skill set?”
Here are some close images from one of my latest drawings. While drawing each individual square seems tedious to me at first, without each window of the building, it would be incomplete.
Detail of Empire State & Chrysler Building
Empire State Building
When your mind, body, and soul are operating on the same page, meaning, there is a common goal, beautiful things happen. If you put your mind into a cause or a project where your heart is and your actions follow, passion ignites and things actually start to get done.
What’s more, when you are operating within God’s will, you are on an accelerated path for the Kingdom, and you become an unstoppable force to be reckoned with. When your goals align with kingdom destiny, your goals become on a fast-track.
Philippians 1:21 says “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” I paused for a moment to meditate on the “to live is Christ” portion. “Is” in this context is a direct metaphor for life. Nothing you do can separate you from God, so why would you try? I am reminded of that Steven Curtis Chapman song, Jesus is Life. “The air I’m breathing, Why my heart is beating, Everything I’m needing, Jesus is life, Jesus is life.”
Jesus IS life. All encompassing, ever-dependent life. The goal is to operate as one mind, one body, and one spirit: totally and completely in sync with your God-planned purpose. “Be no longer conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test God’s will. His good, pleasing and perfect will.” -Romans 12:2. Just rest in those thoughts, knowing that God WANTS you to know His perfect and pleasing will for your life and He WANTS to be involved.
Things aren’t adding up.
So many times in my life I have got a great momentum going and then I’ll stop for a bit and ask myself how I got there or where I am going next. I’ve reached a dead end and suddenly everything I have been doing doesn’t seem to add up. I have reached a point where my sense of direction is a bit cloudy. Anyone else with me on this?
Well, first I am reminded of the story when Jesus first meets His disciples and asks them to drop everything they are doing to become “fishers of men.” Without questions, the disciples stop everything to follow Jesus, to complete their mission. But fish for men? That doesn’t make “logical” sense. To me. Let’s talk about the time when Jesus told the disciples to fish on the other side of the boat even after they had not caught anything all day (as if that would have changed something – and it DID! They caught so many fish that their nets began to break). Or, my personal favorite, the time He asked the Israelites to walk around the city of Jericho 7 days in a row (including 7 times on the 7th day) until the city walls fell down. On the surface, on paper, it just doesn’t make total and complete sense.
If what you are doing today doesn’t make sense, it’s okay. If your vision is cloudy, ask for God’s wisdom. His eyes and His guiding hand for will provide discernment over your life. You will often experience months, even years of life where things don’t add up. It is only when your kingdom assignment is complete that you will be able to understand more the cloudy seasons of life.
You have to have blind trust: even when the outcome isn’t quite clear or you really don’t see what is happening, you trust anyway. Becuase on the other side of blind trust, is the promise.
In every area of your life it pays to be consistent. To say you will do something and follow through with it. Repeatedly.
I’ve noticed for me that consistency leads to growth and developing new habits. This can go either way: maybe I consistently go for a run and develop that habit. Or I could consistently come back home and watch TV for 2 hours after work and develop that habit. (For the record, I’ve done both).
Challenge yourself starting today by asking: are the habits and choices that you are consistently making leading you towards a life that you want to live? Towards a life that will help you grow in your faith? I know I personally can be better about how I spend my time and my money. What changes can you make today that will help you tomorrow, in five years, and in ten years?
Sometimes I take for granted the things that people around me have created to make my life easier or my life so wonderful. It’s easy to hold your phone in your hand, something that has been “perfected” and developed over decades of tech advancement & testing to take a picture of a classic New York monument, one that took so long to build; and not even think twice about it.
I feel so often I take for granted the finished product of things; and don’t appreciate the time it takes to build something beautiful, something that lasts, and something people can appreciate for years to come.
My favorite building in the world (right now), the Flatiron Building, was actually envisioned and designed by architect Daniel Burnham, who worked with The Fuller Company until its completion in 1902. Unfortunately, even after working to put a dream into practice, the CEO of the company who bought the land in the 1800’s was not able to see the finished product before he died. Nevertheless, because of Fuller’s vision and investment, millions of people are able to enjoy his handiwork today.
I could study and draw this building for years, and I have, and I always find a new architectural element that fascinates me. One of my favorite things to do in the city is to sit on the chairs in Madison Square Park across from the Flatiron Building (probably with a cup of coffee in hand) and just thank God that these beautiful landmarks still stand here today.
So when you start your next project, think of the legacy you want to leave behind. Is what your working on something just for now for yourself or something generations of people can enjoy later? Be patient, and know that to produce something of quality that lasts can sometimes take more than a lifetime.
I’ll admit it – the last few years of my life I feel like I’ve been in a funk. Like I’ve been caught up in a routine of life, that I haven’t been living out my purpose. I feel lost and confused, like walking through a maze with a blindfold on.
For me, trying to spark up creativity can be a trying and frustrating process. Especially when everything I am drawing, painting, and writing is just a bit off, but I can’t put my finger on why. What I find is that the most passion comes from your projects, is when your work comes FROM joy, not for it. You don’t have to prove your talent to anyone, you are already so incredibly gifted. Create art from your happy heart, and your work will show your joy.
Create because you see beauty that gives you joy, and you want to capture the moment and share it with someone else because you want them to feel the same way. It is easy to spot when someone’s work is not for themselves, and the best way to counter that and to be authentic is to find pure unfiltered and joy in what you are creating.
I was walking around one of my favorite New York neighborhoods on a cool rainy Sunday morning and snapped a photo of some Gramercy townhouses (I mean… house goals right there). I absolutely love line drawings and I wanted to share this serene moment because it reminded me why I fell in love with New York almost 10 years ago.
You can watch a full time-lapse of the drawing here.
So ask yourself: what are the things you like to do? And more importantly, what brings you happiness in both good times and bad? Someone once said to me, “what do you love to do so much that you would do it for free?” If you are still trying to figure it out like I am, that’s okay. Answering those questions is a good place to start.