The hard thing is that all too often we are left with the “No!” on our own, but to really take hold of the “Yes!” we require another or others or many to resonate the fulfilling work of the Spirit. We can dodge but we can’t commune unless there is agreement, and it is in this agreement with those who are likewise led by the Spirit knowingly or unknowingly that we see the positive work of Christ that washes away the lack and frustrations.
This leaves us with two ways of moving forward. We can move forward by dodging the “No!” and we move forward by embracing the all too rare “Yes!”.
I’ve bounced around “No!” for the most part in my life, finding “Yes!” in leading me to Wheaton where I discovered the depths and pull of the isolating Spirit. I found a “Yes!” when I decided against pursuing law as a career and decided to go to seminary. I felt a “Yes!” when I took up writing, the positive burst of joy in my soul becoming unmistakable as I did it.
I heard a “Yes!” when I began to pursue a PhD, with everything that needed to go right for it to work out, did go right, and some went more right than I could have ever expected. With Amy I had not only a “Yes!” but an “Of course!” So much of my life in interacting with women there was a curious wall. It didn’t work like it should and I didn’t know why. But with Amy it worked, it was easy, remains easy after about 3 years of being together in an intentional relationship. It took just about thirty four years to hear that yes.
Yet, most every “Yes!” remains unresolved still, as I wait for God’s timing and arrival. I leaped over the wall into the river and now have committed myself to each “Yes!” while learning how to better avoid each “No!”. But, for me, the curiosities come in that which are not fully “Yes!” yet have no taste of the “No!” about them. Ministry has this quality. I am open to it because there is no “No!”.
Pursuing a vocation as a writer has this quality for me because while I feel the “Yes!” about writing, the details are left unresolved. Even as a grand “Yes!” occurred with one book, the second book that was accepted for publishing was initially given a yes, but that yes happened in September of 2008, and still no word on when it is going to get into print. And I certainly have not made very much money in writing. Hardly any, in fact.
But even still, I try to cling to hope, even with the mystery of why so many aspects are still “no!” and even some that were “Yes!” aren’t quite as settled as I once hoped.
Embracing the mystery in all areas is an exploration, an exploration of hope and of risk. Not physical risk, but emotional and spiritual risk, as I seek to step directions without knowing why, or for what, or any expected results. I yearn but I learn to yearn without absolute expectation because at the root of all my yearning is to embrace the Spirit above all. I learn to hear, and watch, and wait, and discover the nuances of the Spirit’s guidance in pushing me peculiar directions.
I do this because the hope of maturity isn’t simply about avoiding the bloody legs caused by thorns on each side of the path. It is because in embracing the peculiar work of the Spirit, by embracing that which is foolishness to the Greeks and a scandal to the Jews, I not only learn how to walk, but also how to run.
Then when I learn to run I begin to dance, and suddenly the rapture of the Spirit in life or in death, beaten and mangled or blessed and confirmed, is constant. I move to the rhythm of the Spirit and discover the fullness of God’s eternity even in this present, resonating this to others as they join in this dance. I become in full what I’ve only been in part.
I have to be careful because I’m not dancing yet. I am still learning, still wandering, still seeking without hearing fully. So, I wait. Like the disciples waited, praying for the Spirit to bring a “Yes!” but less and less willing to force any yes upon my life that is not ordained. This leaves me in somewhat isolation, except for notable even if mysterious, exceptions.
This all is the nature of the Spirit, however.
Where else will I go?