Any time we feel God asking something challenging of us, we hear "Did God really say..." - and I'll bet I'm not the only one tempted to listen.
Or I'll say Yes, but only a 95% yes. The other 5% I've kept back, just incase I think of a way to get out of it in time.
But when confront with the temptation to justify, argue and reason our way out of obedience - sometimes we just have to say YES
And mean it.
Not, "Sure, God, I'll do that" *
*...but you don't really mean it, right?
Really completely surrendering to God's will, whatever it is, can be hard. It is hard to silence the voices and arguments and justifications as to why that can't really be God's will, why there must be a way around it, why we're not sure if we really heard Him, so we won't really commit.
The danger of "Did God really say..."
Think of Abraham. When God asked him to sacrifice his long-awaited son, Abraham must have had reservations. The understatement of the Bible makes it seem like Abraham just got up and did it without much delay. But I can't imagine the man who negotiated with God about Sodom and Gomorrah not having any second thoughts or hesitations, about his own son!
He would have been tempted to justify to himself, to reason it away. God gave me this son, promised him to me, surely he wouldn't want to take him away? I'm sure he would have come up with some pretty compelling reasons as to why sacrificing his own son was not really what God wanted.
Abraham would have been sorely tempted by "Did God really say...?"
And yet he went. He said Yes, and he meant it. No matter how much he would have hoped there was another way, he was willing to obey anyway. To the full extent. If God hadn't stayed his hand, Abraham would have carried through with it.
Chances are, what God is asking us to do hasn't come close to the level of sacrificing our only child any time recently. And yet we are still tempted by "Did God really say...?"
We are tempted to withhold our complete submission, our complete trust, our complete Yes.
It is not a sin to want or ask for a different way. Jesus himself asked for it. But don't let that turn into disobedience. We have to really be willing to give it all, even if we think it's going to cost us dearly.
And we can do it with confidence. Because we know God is just, loving and compassionate. He will always do what is right, good and fair. Even if it hurts in the short term, it will have eternal benefits in the long run. We can trust Him with that - we have to trust Him with that, because to our limited sight, we can't see the big picture like He does. We don't often know what the full outcome of our obedience or disobedience will be.
There have been times when I have been terribly afraid to do something that I knew God had been asking me to do. Sometimes I have justified my way out of it. Given in to "Did God really say..." and missed out. But other times - though I certainly argued first - I have said Yes, without keeping anything back. I'm scared, but I'll do whatever you ask.
Sometimes God has gotten me out of it, at the last minute, like Abraham. Sometimes I've had to go through with it, but have found the outcome of that obedience has results that far outweigh the fear and discomfort of actually following through.
So we say Yes, fully. We take that step of faith and let God help us with the doubts and fears.
Because in the end, everything works together for good. You don't know what God will do.
For Abraham, God spared Isaac. Jesus still had to take our sin on the cross - but aren't we glad he meant it when he said "Not my will, but yours" even in the face of "Did God really say..."