Finding Your Yes, Christine E. Wagoner. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2021.
Summary: An exploration of what it means to listen for God’s invitations and say “yes” to them.
One of the questions I often dealt with in student ministry was how one knows God’s will. Christine Wagoner, in Finding Your Yes, suggests that one of the key aspects of this is listening for God’s invitations, and that implies that God is even more interested in guiding us, at times, than we are to be guided.
The book is divided into two parts. The first is “Getting to Yes.” She begins by confessing that “yes” has often begun with “no.” She illustrates this with the story of how she kept saying “no” to writing as well as to teaching a woman’s group in her church and how Jesus pursued her until she said “yes.” She discusses all the “not me” obstacles we erect to those invitations, and how Jesus can shift our perspective, as he did with the woman at the well. She addresses the places of inner resistance, particularly our fear of failure. She tells stories of people who began with small “yesses” and how these led into bigger things. And she discusses how we grow in our yes through partnership and debriefing.
The second part is “Staying with your Yes.” Yes doesn’t automatically lead to a promised land of fruitful life. Sometimes “yes” involves waiting, as it did for Abraham, or recalibrating, when a reality we’ve said “yes” to, like motherhood, is not being fulfilled. Sometimes we say “yes” and life seems to fall apart. Were we mistaken? Sometimes “yes” takes us to a place of pain. Some of this is complicated by lies of the enemy: “this will destroy you”, “if, as a woman, you keep growing as a leader, you will never get married.” She talks about how we sometimes say “no” without exploring the possibility of yes and sometimes have a “no” concealed in our “yes.” I did find myself wondering in this chapter about discerning when God is inviting us to say “no” in order to say “yes.” Finally, she concludes with the joy of a life of saying “yes” again and again.
Wagoner shares a lot of her own experiences of God’s little and bigger invitations, her struggles to find her way to “yes” and then to live into those “yesses.” She writes as a woman leader, single until approaching forty. Her story may help other women who struggle with what saying “yes” to God may mean in terms of marriage and family, and where the use of one’s gifts defy traditional gender role expectations. But the basic message of the book speaks to men as well as women. God’s invitations come to all of us, and we all find ways to try to deflect them, or struggle within ourselves to say “yes.”
As we approach the new year, this book may be helpful as we consider what God may be inviting us to say “yes” to in the coming year. The questions at the end of each chapter are great to talk over with a trusted friend. As Wagoner reminds us, we often grow into and through our “yesses” with partners on the journey. Wagoner’s book can also be a partner in the journey of finding your yes.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.