“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27
Wellspring’s worship leader, Carly, texted this question to me once: How are you moving forward right now in Endless Growth? “We Value Endless Growth” is one of Wellspring’s core values which states: “There is no limit to the number of lives that can be reached for Jesus or the impact He can have on us!” It made me think of a speaker from what was then called “The Persecuted Church” 33 years ago.
His name was Richard Wurmbrand and according to his bio, “He was arrested in 1948, and spent three years in solitary confinement, seeing no one but his Communist torturers. He was then transferred to a group cell, where the torture continued for five more years. After more than eight years in prison, he was released, immediately resuming his work with the underground church. A couple of years later, in 1959, he was re-arrested and sentenced to 25 years in prison. He was released through a general amnesty in 1964, again resuming his underground ministry.”
I went to hear him speak at my church one night. He was an older man who shuffled across the stage broken from the torture and sat in a chair. The first thing Pastor Wurmbrand said is, “I regret so much of what I did in my life because the Lord never told me to do those things. It was from my flesh, not by His Spirit.” I was a little shocked, knowing his story and what he suffered in the name of Christ. He helped change countless lives and brought many to faith in Jesus. Why would he say that? He expounded. Yes, he did amazing things, but how much more if they were done in obedience to the Lord.
I still remember that as a pivotal point in my maturity. I began to learn how to hear and obey the Lord’s leading for my life, even if it means saying no to something that sounds so good, so right. Jesus is the Good Shepherd and He knows us best. He knows our talents, skills, and also our weaknesses. Unless He leads us, we are working out of our flesh and not out of His rest. That’s where burnout and resentment has a place to grow and doesn’t yield the best fruit. And sometimes saying no in obedience takes more courage than saying yes.
"And sometimes saying no in obedience takes more courage than saying yes."
“Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, ‘Let us go back to Judea.’” John 11:5-39
WHAT?? He waited for two days when they needed Him right at that moment! Even Martha scolded Him. But Jesus’ heavenly Father said to wait for the optimum time so He may be glorified. And when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, God WAS glorified. “Then Jesus said, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?’” (John 11:40) It deeply grieved Jesus and He wasn’t faking those tears. I believe God spoke into His heart and directed Him at that moment. Jesus knew His Father’s voice, and it was the same obedience that led Him to the cross in our place for our sins.
And please let me stress, saying yes does NOT mean that we won’t be stretched out of our comfort zones! I think if we’re honest, most of us feel that way all the time, which is why we have to live out of Christ and His example of obedience. We can’t do it on our own. How often do we find ourselves in the middle of something that we were never called to do but say yes out of a need, guilt, looking good, not letting someone down or worse, earning brownie points for God?
Here’s some biblical practices that help me to work out of God’s rest and give my best:
- Wait upon the Lord in silence (Psalm 62:5-7)
- Spend time in solitude (Mark 6:31–32)
- Carve out time to pray alone and with others (Luke 5:16)
- Learn to listen with your spiritual ears (James 1:19)
- Get wise counsel: have an accountability crew that will flag your activities (Proverbs 12:15)
When Wellspring first started, Pastor Jason and Ava approached me to be part of the Core Team. I was honored, but said I needed to think about it. After prayer, time alone, and counsel I went to them and said… “No”. It was soooo hard, but I knew the cost of the commitment up front and I wasn’t able to do what was required of me. I was willing, however, to be part of the Launch Team, offer prayer support and behind the scenes help. And Jason being the good leader that he is, considered me and trusted my decision. Jason later asked me to take on leading up the Prayer Team. I prayed and waited and said yes.
But it’s not the end of the story. I prayed and waited to see how I could best serve at Wellspring. Over these 3 years, I’ve said no a lot, but I also said yes to many things including serving as Aisle Host and in the Kids Nursery. Jason asked me to lead up an existing Life Group that was going through a transition. I said yes. Two years later my friends Joan & Courtney said yes to take over that Life Group while I went on to lead a Starting Point group. I say yes to many of our CKA’s, our “Love One Love All” and “Pray For One” missions. I say yes to small things, and say yes to big things. I often feel ill-equipped, not knowing what I’m doing and thinking I can’t do this! But He can and does.
And very often I still say no, and that’s OK because that allows me to be obedient to God’s leading in saying yes to something better! Be willing, be open, and be available when He calls you. What is He leading you to say “yes” to today? “How are you moving forward right now in Endless Growth?”
Written by Laura Millan,
Volunteer at Wellspring Church