No, Lord.

Lent is upon us and I’m working out what it means for me to be awake and aware of Christ’s Light not just within but all around. One of the things that keeps me from this is the constant speed at which I move from thing to thing. The speed is a symptom of the pile of projects and commitments I have taken on. For instance, the other day we were at our Home Owner’s Association meeting and while we were in the process of forming our newly appointed board members someone asked “who would like to be on the board?” My hand instinctively went up. I felt like I was watching a movie of myself where the film version of me couldn’t see what I the viewer saw. I watched myself raise my hand, and felt powerless to stop it. Yelling at the screen “no!!!!” no one heard or even cared. This kind of compulsive yes has gotten me roped into more things than I care to recount.

Part of the problem here is my (and our?) “Protestant” theology. I have this idea that obedience to God will inevitably mean that I do more things. God opens up doors and creates opportunities and then I gratefully take those opportunities as the obedient follower. If it is actually true that obedience leads to compulsive yes’s then what we need is not so much a theology of “Yes, Lord!” but a “No, Lord!” one instead. Now, I don’t actually believe this is what obedience means but I live as though I do. In fact, it seems like obedience should often be quite the opposite, a stripping down, a held breathe, a pacing that is able to be attentive and present, not at a breakneck speed. I suspect that obedience to Christ will not simply look like our culture of achievement and more than likely will contrast with it.

So that’s what I’m working on. I want to gain the discipline of saying no, a discipline that is anything but my natural tendency. I and trying to fast from my yes’ and from my theology of “getting things done” in the name of obedience. And this means that I also have to suffer some of the consequences of saying no to things I’ve already said yes to.