Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus. In him, this is what we preach and pray, the great Amen, God’s Yes and our Yes together, gloriously evident. God affirms us, making us a sure thing in Christ, putting his Yes within us. By his Spirit he has stamped us with his eternal pledge—a sure beginning of what he is destined to complete.
2 Corinthians 1: 20 – 22, The Message
Last Friday evening, Sam was at his high school taking part in the Science Fair. He is a senior and like many of his peers, his mind has been occupied with where he will go to college next year. He received an email notification from his number one choice of colleges: Trinity College in Hartford. There was a message: check your application status. Taking a deep breath, Sam clicked open his file and found this:
Yes! You are accepted.
Yes! We want you.
Yes! There is a place for you at Trinity College.
Yes! Your parents are going to spend a lot of their money here. (Trinity didn’t really say that but it’s true nonetheless.)
I actually didn’t hear the good news until the following morning when Leslie told me. I must tell you that the verses from 2 Corinthians 1 starting rolling around in my mind as I wept a little. Call it the power of yes. Sure, it’s good that Sam is going to college but it’s really good to be accepted, wanted, and included.
Sometimes during a funeral service I like to talk about the amazing grace of God. I quote a favorite professor of mine who taught me at Fuller Theological Seminary. His name was Lewis Smedes. He died a few years ago. Lewis Smedes prayed like no one I ever heard. He spoke to God personally, honestly and beautifully. Professor Smedes knew God’s grace at depth. This is what he said about it once. Pay careful attention: “But most of us have an underground trembling anxiety that, if people could see us for what we really are, they would not accept us. And we are also anxious that God, who does see us for what we really are will look at us and say: ‘You are not acceptable.’ But God comes with another word. Whether you’re acceptable or not doesn’t matter. What matters is this: ‘You are accepted no matter what.’ Grace means that God says Yes to us even when we say No to ourselves. His Yes is so strong that our No about ourselves does not have a chance. I do not know what faith you have or what religion you follow. I do know this: If your religion only clobbers you for not living up to God’s standards or your Mother’s or your own, your religion has no grace in it. But grace, in my experience, is especially for people who feel, not that things on the outside are all wrong, but that they are all wrong on the inside. When we have gummed up our own lives, and we can’t seem to find a good word to say for ourselves, grace says that God will accept us and never reject us. Acceptance, you see, is what grace is really all about. I believe that the deepest need that any of us have is to know that we are accepted and we will never be rejected. Let me say it again: Grace is God’s resounding Yes to you while you are saying No to yourself. And his yes to you is so resounding that it drowns out your no that you say to yourself.”
It’s just a college acceptance letter, I know; but it has taught me and my family just how powerful and good Yes can be.