I only have two tattoos. Of course, my sweet dad would say two is too many. One of my tattoos – circa 2007 – is behind my ear, and is a word that means worship. The other is on my wrist in white ink, and reads, “YES.” (circa 2015).
I’ll spare you the details on the first one. The meaning was well intended and significant to me at the time (although I still haven’t found one person who can actually confirm the language or that it does in fact mean worship). Also, it looks more like a battle scar of some kind than a work of art, so we’ll write it off as a good college memory. I digress.
The second one I got a few hours after my best friend’s funeral. The tattoo parlor that day was hopping — full of our crew of friends who loved Jamilyn deeply and were reeling together from her sudden loss in a car accident. Each one got their own version of a “YES.” tattoo. I can still hear the roar of worship from the thousands of people who showed up that day to celebrate her life, and it was my greatest privilege to get to lead them.
But grief had become the theme of my 20’s, and Jamilyn’s loss felt like the final blow. Everything in me wanted to shut down and put a lock and key on my heart.
While my heart at the time was screaming “NO!”, the contagious theme of Jamilyn’s life was saying “YES.” to God no matter the ask. It then became the theme of her funeral, as well. She was a true missionary. Like Paul, she became “all things to all people” (1. Cor. 9:22).
Jamilyn wrote shortly before her death, “His ‘YES’ forever changes my identity. His ‘YES’ gave me life. His ‘YES’ overwhelms me… I still wrestle with my humanness but praise God that with His strength, I now have the freedom to say ‘YES.’”
Jamilyn didn’t approach people based on her need, she approached them based on theirs. She took a posture of service toward people asking, “What do you need and how can I serve you?” She didn’t just ask about people’s physical needs, she asked them about the needs of their soul. She was after the hearts of people. She prayed for people’s souls and for them to come to know the power of Jesus Christ in their lives.
When the Gospel of Jesus Christ grips your soul, it moves us out of a self-focused life to a life sacrificed for others. It causes you to say YES to the messy of others’ lives, rather than opting for the protection of your own. It invites you into a life of surrender that just might lead to places, people, or countries you would’ve never imagined for your future.
That’s certainly become my story. I could’ve never known how life-altering my choice of YES that summer would become. A few months after that second tattoo, I chose to say a wholehearted YES to marrying my husband, Jordan. We’ll be celebrating 4 years of marriage in December, and it’s been 4 years full of YES’s. Yes to trying for more babies after miscarrying our first, yes to 7 moves, yes to 3 babies under 3, and most recently YES to leading an organization called Rise+Shine.
The full story behind that is another blog for another day, but the theme is continual surrender as we wrestled with a shared passion for South Asia that we couldn’t shake.
While choosing YES. to God when everything in you is wanting to say no can be painstaking at first, each decision compounds over time into a lifestyle of surrender. And the possibilities of how He can use a surrendered heart are endless.
My challenge to you today is to consider if there might be a “no” in your heart towards an opportunity that needs to be re-evaluated. Where might you be clinging to comfort or earthly security too tightly? I invite you to consider what could be on the other side of your wholehearted YES to God. Whatever He asks, wherever He leads, however it might affect how your life looks today. I can’t wait to hear how your story will unfold from your bold choice to surrender to the process and trust God for the outcome. Here’s to more YES’s this year.
Bethany Cranfield | Bethany is a California-born + Texas-bred church kid who encountered Jesus at 24 while healing from a divorce. This encounter with love changed everything. With an eclectic background in social work and music, Bethany comes alive connecting people to God’s generous heart through fundraising by day and leading worship by night. Bethany and her husband, Jordan, are raising three babies under 3 and leading Rise+Shine together, a ministry serving vulnerable communities in South Asia.
To read more about Jamilyn’s story and why she chose to say yes, visit jamilynhull.com.