Chapter Four: The Opposites of Yes and No

  Chapter Four:  The Opposites of Yes and No

 “No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”       Luke 16:13

 When last we met, we were under the Opposite Tree, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  It was the tree that split Eve’s world in two and our history in two.  Before she ate, Eve walked with God; after she ate, Eve walked from God.  Before Adam ate, the world was upright; after Adam ate, the world was upside-down.  As believers, we refer to this event as The Fall.  So many things in our lives, in our world, are traced back to The Fall, the time when sin entered through the door of choice.  Not only did Adam and Eve receive parting gifts of difficult labor and physical death as they were escorted out of the garden, but the earth also received some baggage of its own.  From this time on, new words were added to those which Adam had compiled for the first dictionary; words like weeds and thorns, drought and famine, poisonous and carnivorous, malignant and inoperable…sin and judgment.  When we look around at our world today, we trace every hurtful, harmful, hell-bent event back to The Fall.  It is one of our turning points in history.  And, because its hinges swing two ways, it too reveals the Law of Opposites.

As stated in the last chapter, (what we will now refer to as) The Fall came about because God created a world in which man could choose Him.  When God created Adam and Eve, He also created choice.  He did not desire programmed but preferential praise…and for that man would need a free will.  It was a daring move, but we serve a dauntless God…and a sovereign God, for He already knew the outcome of such an offer so that before Eve said, “Yes,” to the produce, His Son had said, “Yes,” to the plan.  It is in these yeses that we continue (or should I say continuum?) our look at the Law of Opposites, for where there is a yes, there is also a no.

In Matthew 5:37, Jesus said to let our yes be yes and our no be no.  The context is that of keeping one’s word; we are to mean what we say and to say what we mean.  But there is another application we can surmise from Jesus’ advice about our yeses and our nos, and it’s found in the Law of Opposites.

Surely we would all agree that yes and no are opposites.   They lie as direct contradictions to one another.  I can say yes or no to something, but I cannot say yes and no to the same thing.  If I were to place yes and no on a ‘decision line’, then one would lie to the extreme right and the other would lie to the extreme left; they would be opposite one another.  With this image of a yes/no line of continuum, it is easy to visualize this next statement:  every move toward one end is a move away from the other end.  If I take a step toward yes, I move away from no, and if I take a step toward no, I move away from yes.  That’s a simple presentation…with a compound application.

When Eve said yes to the serpent, she said no to God; when Adam said yes to Eve, he said no to Elohim.  And since that day, since that yes, we’ve been following in their footsteps…right out of the garden and right into the gulley.  With every yes we emit to the world, we utter a no to The Way (John 14:6); with every choice we make for, we make a decision against.  We say yes to a promotion, we say no to Saturdays at home; we say yes to a new boat, we say no to Sundays at church; we say yes to every activity, we say no to suppers at home.  It’s the truth of the yes/no continuum; we can’t move in two directions at the same time, though we often feel pulled in two directions!  “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other,” (Luke 16:13); we cannot please both God and the flesh, we cannot go left and right at the same time.

So how do we “walk the line”?  How do we let our yes, or our no, move us in the right direction?  We take one step at a time, we make one decision at a time.  The good news is, being opposites, the same principle applies to both ends of the continuum.  Therefore, for every no we reply to the world, there is a yes we release to The Way.  This seems so elementary, but it can be enlightening when it comes to the decisions we make.  If I can keep my mental eye on both ends of the yes/no continuum, then I can look to see not only what I am moving toward but also what I am moving from.  It’s a valuable perspective because, without it, I lose my peripheral vision; without it, I become myopic and see all movement as productive.  But, when I step back far enough to see what lies in each direction, then I can “let my yes be yes, and my no be no” for I know not only what I am moving toward, but also what I am moving from.

While this yes/no principle succumbs to the Law of Opposites and, therefore, stands true, God has provided many examples for our benefit…for our encouragement.  Let’s start with Noah; he gave God a resounding yes that lasted for 120 years as he committed to the task of building an ark…at a time when the earth had yet to know rain, much less a flood.  That yes to building a boat resulted in a no to building an admirable reputation…at least until the rain came.  Then, there’s Abraham; he said yes to a new land and no to an established homestead.  His yes led to the formation of a nation, which, by and large, is bigger and larger than a homestead.  Want another one?  How about Rahab?  She said yes to hiding some spies and no to those who were looking for them.  In doing this, she said yes to Jehovah and no to Jericho; yes to a scarlet line out her window, yes to a bloodline with her Savior.  Then, there are some infamous no-givers.  How about Joseph who said no to Potiphar’s wife?  It was a costly no at first, but its dividends paid off in the end as Joseph went from working in the palace to leading from the palace.  Ruth serves as an example of one whose no landed her in a new land…and yielded her a new husband.  When told by her mother-in-law to stay in Moab following the death of her husband, Ruth said no and followed Naomi to Bethlehem.  There, she met Boaz…and from their lineage the second king of Israel would arise; he too would say no.  David was his name; waiting was his game.  He’d been anointed as Israel’s future king in his youth, but waiting for God’s plans to unfold kept him walking the fine line of yeses and nos.  While he waited for a yes on God’s timing, David had to say a few nos to man’s timing.  No to killing Saul when he came into David’s cave and no to killing Saul when David came into his camp.  David’s no to taking matters into his own hands led him toward the yes of waiting for God to take matters into His own hands…and He did, and David, in time, became Israel’s second king.  The list goes on…Andrew and Peter, James and John, Paul and Silas, (John) Newton and (Charles) Wesley, (Charles) Spurgeon and (D.L.) Moody.  Each of these individuals said no to their plans and yes to God’s purpose; each of them had to turn their back to some things that they might turn their heart to one thing, and with each directional step, they let their no be no and their yes be yes.

It’s the Law of Opposites.  While practically we can only move in one direction at a time, positionally we can move in two directions as we realize each step toward is also a step from; with each pronounced yes, we are also proclaiming a no.  So let’s rightly position ourselves on the yes/no continuum.  Let’s look to see where our next step lands us; will we be closer to God or further from Him?  Will we say yes to our goals or yes to God’s glory?  Will we say no to our plans or no to God’s perfection?  We cannot serve two masters; we cannot walk in two directions; we cannot say yes without also saying no.


The Power of One

The Power of One

 “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,”    -Philippians 3:13


               A couple of weeks ago, I saw an interesting sight.  It was one of those “What was that?” images that caused me to look twice…and then to laugh once! The scene that caught my eye was a car lot with just one car…on the whole the lot.  That was it!  One car!  The sign read ‘Car Lot’, but the lot read ‘Car…One’.  I couldn’t help but laugh as I thought to myself…that must be some car!  Just imagine the owner conversing with a potential customer.  It might sound something like this:

Continue reading “The Power of One”

Chutes and Ladders

                  Chutes and Ladders

“If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also.”     –John 14:3

 When my boys were young, one of the board games they liked to play was Chutes and Ladders.  I would try to tempt them into an enticing game of Candy Land or a rousing game of Trouble, but try as I might, Chutes and Ladders would all too often prevail.  Now, you’d think a game as simple as this one would be a first choice on game night, but the issue I had was that too often it took too long to play.  I expect that with Monopoly; it takes about three good snow days to complete this epic game.  But, with Chutes and Ladders?  With a game that is geared for children ages 4-7?  Who would expect it to be a “let’s take a break and finish up later” kind of game?

The trouble lies in the chutes.  When you land on a square where a chute begins, you have to slide down to where it ends.  That could send you back 10 squares, 38 squares, or…on my most frequented chute…63 squares!   The object of the game is to make it to the 100th block.  While the ladders allow you to scale over rows of squares, it’s the presence of the chutes that catapults the game into a perpetual, monopoly-like, status.  Move ahead 4 squares; climb a ladder 22 squares; slide down 25 squares, and so on, and so on, and so on.  It’s a game, I’ve come to realize, that is replicated in life as well.  Little did I know that shrink-wrapped within the simple game of Chutes and Ladders was the far more complex game of Shoots and Ladders.  A game where my life’s choices land me on certain squares; a game where I’ve sometimes climbed upward, occasionally slipped downward, yet continually moved forward, all too often muttering, “Ah, shoot!  Where’s my ladder?”

I’ve read that the more one thinks about something, the more it becomes etched upon one’s brain.  Like a tethered animal wears a path around its post, so too do our thoughts etch patterns upon our mind until we see them as clearly as if they stood before us.  Apparently, I’ve played enough rounds of Chutes and Ladders to have a picture of the game board engraved upon my frontal lobe.  For years now, when something good happened…and especially when something not so good happened…my thoughts have jumped to the board game in my mind and I either envisioned myself climbing a ladder or sailing down a chute.  The value was not in how far I’d advanced but rather in the fact that, whether climbing or curtailing, I was still on the board; I was still in the game.  Sometimes, that simple fact was enough to steady me.  It reminded me to step back, take a look at the whole board, reassess my position upon it and reflect upon the overall object of the game:  to get to the final square.  As long as I was still on the board, I was still in the game; as long as I was still in the game, there were still advances to be made.  And so I’d take another step, move ahead at least one more square, and hope that my next move would not result in an, “Ah, shoot…I’m gonna need a longer ladder!”

Can you relate?  I’m guessing you can.  I think we all have markers upon this board.  I think we all begin the game of Shoots and Ladders when we are born and we’re removed from the board when we draw our last breath.  And, in between these start and finish lines, we move across the “board of life”.  Now, before your “new age” detectors go off, rest assured that I am not saying life is a random game where some unknown hand flicks a spinner and randomly sends us through life.  What I am saying is that there is a beginning and an ending to our life; that life is filled with a series of forward and backward, upward and downward moves; and, that there is a goal to the game…successfully reaching the final square!  Within that context, I do see life as a game; and, as long as I’m on the board, I want to be in the game.  I don’t want to be a quitter because I fell down a chute; I don’t want to be a bragger because I climbed 57 rungs; and I don’t want to miss my next turn because I wasn’t paying attention.  (For a while, I though Ahem was my middle name.  As in, “Kris…Ahem…it’s your move.”)  Until I reach the final square, I am supposed to move; until I draw my last breath…I am still in the game!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve experienced a loss or setback of some type and the image of Chutes and Ladders flashed across my mind and I reminded myself, “It’s just a chute.  You’re still on the board…you’re still in the game.  Just wait and move ahead one more square on your next turn.”  It may sound weird (a concept I feel completely unqualified to determine), but it has anchored me more times than not.  And it does so because it’s a picture of Biblical truth, of Godly grace.  Only God knows our last move; only God can pick up our marker and determine when the game is finally over; only God can extend the ladder that leads us to our final destination…to the last square marked “Winner!”

There is, however, one distinguishing rule that differs between the actual board game and the figurative life game, and that is who moves your marker.  In the actual game of Chutes and Ladders, you do.  You spin, you count, you move, you slide.  Everything lies within the power of your fingertips.  But, in the figurative game of Shoots and Ladders, you have a choice as to who moves your marker.  In this scenario, there are three choices:

  1. You move your marker
  2. Others move your marker
  3. God moves your marker

The importance of choosing the right mover not only increases your involvement in the game, but it also determines your inheritance at the end of the game.  If you decide to maintain control, then you have to work your way through the game on your own and, should you reach the “Winner’s” box, your reward will simply be that you finished the game.  If you decide to let others spin for you and push or pull you along the board, then you’ll lose the added pressure of having to think for yourself but you’ll also lose the added privilege of having accomplished something.  And, should you arrive at the “Winner’s” box, you’ll not be congratulated for your own efforts, but condemned for never truly engaging in the game.  After all, how can you claim what you did not choose?  But, if you allow God to be your Mover, if you choose Him to hold your marker, then it’s a game changer.  For now, though the board is still filled with chutes and ladders, it’s God’s hand that softens every fall and establishes every ascent.  And, while He sets up the board and positions us on our squares, He allows us to make our own moves, knowing that for games to be enjoyable, they must also be exciting.  But within the realm of choices and variables, there lies one immovable, one unchangeable truth:  when God is our Mover, He is also our Rewarder.  Now the “Winner’s” box has meaning; now it’s more than a position, it’s a place; it’s more than an accomplishment, it’s an accommodation, it’s more than an ending, it’s a beginning. For now, I won’t merely have a reward that I constructed, or that others consumed, but one which God created…just for me!  Now I have an inheritance, and that makes all the shoots…and all the ladders…worthwhile!

Life is like the game of Chutes and Ladders.  We advance, we retreat, we celebrate, we mourn, but we always move forward, we always move toward the final square.  The question lies not in the number of chutes and ladders we encounter, but in the meaning, and reality, contained within the “Winner’s” box.  Where will your last move find you?  Ascending the final ladder to Heaven, or descending the final chute to hell?  While you’re still in the game, you might want to give your marker to God…while it’s still your turn!

“If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also.”  John 14:3

 ladder to heaven