Three letters.

I’m in South Korea presently.

Last week I was in Nepal.

Next week I’ll be in South Africa.

These current travels come on the heels of an 8-month period of time during which I travelled to Hawaii, England, Wales, South Africa (the first time), South Korea (the first of two trips in one year), Cambodia, and Thailand.

I realize my life at the moment probably sounds a bit “over-the-top” – as if I’m trotting across the planet enjoying an extravagantly and impractically adventurous existence.

Or something.

But I’d like to share the reality of the situation with you…

In the previous 8 months, one word has gripped me, compelled me, and arrested my attention. It’s the word I’ve whispered amidst the pain and shuddering of my own failure. It’s the word I’ve wrapped my heart around when the only thing of which I felt capable was its opposite. It’s the word punctuating the moment of my most vulnerable surrender to the Father. And it’s the word that launched me into this present wild season of adventure and ministry.

The word is three letters long… Ready for it?

It’s yes

y – e – s.

I’ve honestly had to stop quite often over these past several days in order to wrap my head around my life at the moment. The question bouncing around my brain is this: how did I get here I mean literally how??

How the heck did I get to South Korea? And Nepal before that? And South Africa one week from now? 

Because the obvious truth is: I’m not some impressive darling of the faith – a woman with Esther’s magnificent courage or Ruth’s immovable commitment. I regularly feel weak – like clockwork – beset with recurring doubts and fears. Oh! If you only knew my inner world! You’d see a woman in her mid-twenties with two and a half million lessons yet to learn, a soul full of hunger, a few tender roots of vulnerable hope, a handful of untamed weaknesses, and several staggering failures under my belt. I’m enjoying these present adventures not because I somehow deserve them or have proven myself worthy of them. Goodness gracious, noI deserve anything but the faithfulness and provision of God.

But He is faithful and extravagant in giving me His provision and Presence anyway.

And here’s where this word – yes – enters my narrative. The most transformative lesson I’ve learned this past year is this: I don’t need to become someone “better,” more “impressive” or more “fixed” than I am right now in order to experience the fullness of the Father’s love and abundance; I don’t have to do anything remarkable to “turn my life around” and become someone impossibly more “put together” than this present me. No, the only thing – the one thing – I must do is say yes to Him. Right now. As I am. 


Please don’t miss this. I know it might sound like a tired cliche (the idea of giving God our “yes”), but I guarantee you it’s anything but tired. Yes is the one word that has woken up every fiber of my being and liberated me from the chains of my own limitations into the glory of his limitlessness. Too much of my life was spent giving lip service to the indwelling grace and power of Christ while subconsciously assuming I had to first rise to a certain level of faith and discipline before I could actually and immediately experience the reality of Christ’s miraculous power and transformation. It felt for too long like I was on the wrong side of some impossibly wide chasm, staring across the divide at the “impressive Christians” (the ones who have books written about their lives)… those who watch God utterly transform and liberate them, set them ablaze with His love, and work astoundingly through them.

I wanted a life like that. I wanted it badly.

But I assumed the only way of experiencing such a life with Jesus was to “prove myself” in the faith, to put my head down and “get over” all my ever-present flaws, sins, and weaknesses – as if I had to “arrive” at some mythical point of maturity before enjoying a liberated, healed, abundant, and fruitful life with God.

But last fall, in the midst of one of the most broken seasons of my life, that delusion was (thankfully) shattered.

I came to understand in my soul (not merely in an intellectual way, but in a gut-level way), that the cross of Jesus Christ – His death and resurrection – means I never have to waste my energy trying to “arrive” anywhere. The fact is, I’ve already “arrived.” I don’t have to cross that chasm to the other side (where the “impressive” Christians live) because I’m already there, and being there (here!) has nothing to do with how impressive I am. The fact is, Jesus carried me over the divide when He carried the cross and left the grave vacant. Every remarkable and astounding promise of God is – in this moment – a “YES” for me in Christ Jesus, and all I must do is respond to His yes with my yes.

I only have to say yes to Him.

I’m not trying to be simplistic; I’m just being honest.

My life drastically changed when I realized that rather than the Bible being full of truths I had to somehow work hard to incorporate into my life (disciplining myself in order to eventually “live up to them”), it is instead an honest description of my present and immediate reality with God. I just have to agree. I just have to say yes.

But it’s even more personal than that… God is knocking relentlessly and longingly at the door of my heart (and your’s!), whispering over and over that all He wants is to come inside and prepare a feast to enjoy with me, to be with me, to wrap me up in His love. Even in my ugliest, and most unimpressive moments He knocks, intent on coming inside.

And there’s only one little word He’s waiting to hear from me…

I began to grasp this truth in earnest last October, and seven or eight “yes’s” later, I’m here in South Korea speaking to a large group of young people about my miraculous journey to Nepal to share the Love of the Father with the unreached people groups in the Himalayas (fully funded!) when – three weeks before flying out – I had only $20 to my name. Several more “yes’s” and I’m praying with courageous and beautiful cancer patients here in Korea, meeting with Korean missions pastors over lunch to discuss the heart of God for the nations of the world, and listening as my Korean friend earnestly articulates her longing to give her life to God in missions.

Another yes later, and I’ll soon be on my way to South Africa, a nation I assumed I wouldn’t be able to return to until years down the road.

“Yes” has altered my very existence.

Saying yes to God won’t mean the same thing for every one of us – God delights in us each too uniquely for that. And it won’t mean that all of the challenges simply evaporate from our lives. But saying yes will mean that our limits no longer enslave us. It will mean that we no longer have to doggedly chase a foolish and elusive point of “arrival.” It will mean we no longer have to alienate ourselves from the present and immediate power and tenderness of God.

And it will mean that right now we can begin to live the sorts of lives with God about which books will be written…

Whether those books are penned in heaven or here on earth in this age, right now the Father has His hand outstretched towards you and me… He’s not looking for the “impressive” ones, nor the ones who’ve “arrived.” He’s not looking for the “elite.” He’s looking at us – the ones who feel weak and ordinary and hungry – and with smiling eyes and His Voice dripping with the anticipation of Heaven, He’s saying, “Will you let me in? Will you take my hand? There are no more obstacles. I’ve removed them all. There’s nothing you have to prove. I’ve already proven it. There’s no chasm for you to cross. I’ve already carried you to the other side. Will you let me in?”

We need only to say a single word.

Three letters.

My ordinary, flawed life has happily turned upside down with the utterance of that little word.

Now it’s your turn.

I promise you it’s worth it. Better yet, He promises it’s worth it.

Will you say yes?


One response

  1. Oh Emily….so profoundly and beautifully written. It went straight into my heart. Thank you for these words of truth Father God, written through Emily.

    June 5, 2013 at 2:59 pm

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