My daily life is painfully ordinary. And yet, with the perspective of time, I’m often able to look back on seemingly insignificant moments and see glimpses into a plan set in motion before I was born.
Wouldn’t it be grand if we were able to see ordinary moments as significant in real time instead of only looking back on them as events that reshaped us to the glory of God?
MR. DERRELL’S GREATEST LESSON
I met Derrell Hill when I was ten years old. Mr. Derrell was my dad’s friend, and his family befriended mine. Over the years, our families became close. The kind of close where you know you’ll be at their house on Sunday nights after church, where you vacation together, and expect to see them a few times a week.
Growing up, I always liked Mr. Derrell. He was kind and joked around a lot. It was hard not to be happy around him. Eventually I started my own family and moved away, and rarely thought about him anymore. Preoccupied with raising a passel of Britton boys, I had no idea the impact this man would have on me.
One day I heard Mr. Derrell had been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. The drugs being used to treat him began harming him. His bones became brittle, and several in his spine cracked. A tear in his intestines nearly killed him and resulted in him needing an ostomy bag. He was afflicted with painful bed sores, which led to staph infection. Fluid built up around his heart.
This once vivacious man began to deteriorate. Over the course of almost 10 years, his once tall and sturdy frame shrank considerably. The last time I saw him, he could barely walk and was completely bent over at the waist. He spent years suffering in unimaginable physical pain, almost completely housebound, and dependent on others for everything.
THE BEST ADVICE I EVER RECEIVED
Every time we visited our family back in Baton Rouge, we would take our boys to visit Mr. Derrell. He was home alone most of the day, and spent significant time studying God’s Word and praying. He loved the Lord, and always wanted to talk about him. In preparation for our visits, he would search the scriptures for a special verse he wanted each of my boys to know. When we arrived, he would give each of them a piece of paper with their verse on it. He discussed it with them and asked them to memorize it.
My husband and I valued our time with Mr. Derrell. He was a picture of grace in suffering. His devotion to Christ was undeniable, and his joy in the Lord was tangible. We were in awe of his faithful witness and perseverance. He often counseled us, and we welcomed every word.
On our last visit, though I didn’t know it at the time, Mr. Derrell gave me the best advice I’ve ever received. As we stood up to leave, he struggled to stand as well. We begged him not to trouble himself, but he insisted on walking us to the door. The front door was only a few steps away from where we had been sitting, but it took a great deal of time for him to make the journey.
He filled that time with the sweetest words: “Keep saying yes to Jesus. Yes, Lord, yes.”
These would be the last words I ever heard from him. Mr. Derrell died before our next visit.
I received so much wisdom from this man over the years, but his last words to me resounded with the finality of everything I needed to learn from him. Whatever I do and wherever I go, by God’s grace, I am to keep giving all my “yeses” to Christ.
SAY ‘YES’ TO THE ONE WHO SAID ‘YES’ TO US
Our rally cry today is “Yes, Lord, yes!”
The Lord calls us to die to ourselves and live for him. How will we respond? “Yes, Lord, yes!”
He tells us to make disciples of all nations. What is our answer? “Yes, Lord, yes!”
He invites us to welcome the sojourner and to visit the orphan and widow. Will we? “Yes, Lord, yes!”
His command is for us to forgive our enemies and love our neighbors. What is our response? “Yes, Lord, yes!”
We can give Jesus all our “yeses” because of his great “yes” on our behalf. When he prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done,” he said “yes” for us. He said “yes” to his Father when he took our place on the cross.
Father, give us the grace to keep saying “yes” to you. Yes, Lord, yes. You are worthy of all our “yeses.”
When strangers saw Mr. Derrell, they likely thought him a frail man. But in my eyes, he was a giant. I saw a suffering saint who spent himself for others in the ways he was capable. I saw Christ magnified in his weakness. I wish I had seen the significance of my moments with him from the beginning.
Today, I’m changed because of those moments. And one day, I’ll visit with Mr. Derrell again and thank him for charging me to rally behind joyful obedience to Jesus. Join me, church, in crying out, “Yes, Lord, yes!”
Christy Britton is a wife and mom to four boys. She writes Bible study curriculum for Docent Research Group and serves as the Discipleship Classes Coordinator for Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, N.C. She is an orphan advocate with 127 Worldwide and contributes administratively to bring pastor training opportunities to Africa for Acts 29. You can follow her on Twitter.