Putting your "yes" on the table

Posted by Jack Haye on 4/22/24 8:53 AM

is your yes still on the table

We think it’s you.” [stunned silence…]

The phone call came in late July as I was walking across the parking lot headed home for the day. It was from the chairman of the President Search Committee at Patrick Henry College. While I had served as Chairman of PHC Board of Trustees for 15 years, I was only peripherally involved in the College’s search for a new President.

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“We think it’s you” were the last words I expected to hear. Having left my long-time banking career three years prior, I was comfortable serving as Executive Pastor of my home church. Over the past few weeks though, several strategic conversations with friends and colleagues had left me sensing that God was up to something—perhaps a new direction on the church’s capital campaign or perhaps leadership changes in the staff. In all of these conversations, I was left with the unsettling question often posed by a missionary friend of mine: “Is your ‘yes’ still on the table?”

“We think it’s you.”

When I recovered my breath, I told the chairman of the search committee, “I think you dialed the wrong number. This is Jack.” [nervous laughter…]

“No,” he said quietly but with great conviction. “We believe God has led us to you.”

After concluding the call, the Lord brought to mind the recurring question of the past few weeks: “Is your ‘yes’ still on the table?”


“Well, yes, Lord, but not that yes!” I then proceeded to make a long list of why this was a really bad idea. As always, He was gracious to listen but then reminded me that living on mission is about His calling, not my convenience or my plans.

I knew He was right­—a commendation I am sure He was delighted to receive. Years of walking with the Lord had taught me that He is always at work around us. Often, we are so laser-focused on our own plans, agendas, and dreams, that we blow right past what He may be doing in the peripheral vision of our souls. In His grace, He sometimes sends disruptive moments to capture our attention and draw us aside to hear His invitation to join Him in what He is already doing.

Moses had such a disruptive moment in his encounter with the burning bush. The order of the events in that encounter is so instructive. The Scripture says:

God waited for Moses to turn aside before He spoke to him.

The decision to live on mission necessarily comes with a sense of listening and releasing as we acknowledge everything we have as gifts from the Lord. Our material resources, our talents and gifts, our schedules and even our dreams and plans. After all, He is the one who gives us the breath of life and the ability to dream and plan.

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The busyness of raising and providing for a family, prioritizing time to nurture your marriage and manage a career can be exhausting in both body and soul—not to mention mowing the grass, serving in your local church, and coaching soccer. Even the idea of saying “yes” to one more thing is daunting.

But what if we saw all of these areas of our life as part of our calling to live a life on mission? What if we, in raising our children to know and glorify the Lord and managing our finances and life-style choices, intentionally created margin versus gaps? Gaps tend to be filled with more work and less time at home. Margin allows us to share our resources (especially time) generously and watch God multiply our efforts for His glory.

What if we saw our workplace as an assignment where we had the opportunity to represent the gospel through the excellence of our work and in our interactions with co-workers? We could be known as someone willing to spend time to invest in the growth of others—even those who may be very different from us, building bridges over which the Gospel may travel.

There is a false idea that our lives (and conduct) can be divided into sacred and private, secular spheres. But is there really a time or place where it is okay to suspend the call to represent the Gospel with every aspect of our lives? Author Jimmy Draper put it this way: “Following Christ is not a way of doing certain things; it is a certain way of doing all things.” There is no sacred / secular divide. It is all sacred. No part of our lives is spiritually insignificant.

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The invitation to turn aside and see came to our family that late July weekend in 2015. And as we did, it became evident that God was indeed inviting us into the next chapter He was writing at Patrick Henry College. This semester marks the beginning of our ninth academic year at PHC, and we have no regrets, only profound gratitude for all God has done.

Through all the ups and downs of following God’s calling in our lives, we develop our ability to trust that He will equip and empower us according to His purposes. It’s about living life with a sense of both stewardship and expectancy, knowing He is at work all around us, sometimes in the most unlikely ways.

Disruptive Moments, Holy Encounters, and Soccer Balls

The sun was barely up but it was already a hot July morning as we walked to the local church. We were in El Salvador serving and engaging the youth. The pastor suggested a prayer walk through the neighborhood as a good starting point. The teens on my team looked at me warily both because most had not experienced a prayer walk and because the neighborhood surrounding the church was one of the most dangerous in the city. But we prayed together and stepped out with the pastor and a small group of people from his church. The streets were eerily quiet with only barred windows and reinforced doors visible as we walked through the narrow, litter-strewn street. As we prayed for the people who lived in fear and isolation behind these doors, we noticed a small group of local kids playing soccer in the street up ahead. One of their shots went wide and landed right in the middle of our group. One of our more gregarious teens picked it up and kicked it back. Well, it would be more correct to say that she kicked it in the general direction of the waiting kids. It sliced to right and promptly disappeared over the high wall of a house a few feet away. There was a sharp intake of air from us and from the kids who had just lost their soccer ball since knocking on doors was not a thing that was done on this street if you valued your life.

The students looked at me and I just smiled and said, “Let’s see what God may be up to,” as the pastor and I walked up to the door and knocked. The man who answered the door had two guns leveled at our chests. I explained through the pastor that we had accidently kicked a soccer ball into his courtyard and asked if he would mind throwing it back. He stared at us in disbelief and then gruffly turned around while slamming the door shut, only to return a moment later to tell us that the ball had not landed in his yard. It must be the next house over.

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So of course, we moved to the next door and knocked. Again, no soccer ball. But as we continued to move down the street, the people who had answered their doors began coming out into the street, which enabled the people from the local church to engage them in conversations. Soon, more doors opened and the whole street was on the hunt for the lost soccer ball. We knocked on one final door and a woman opened the door just enough for the pastor to explain who we were and what we were looking for. Suddenly, she flung the door open and ran into the street crying. Her husband had beaten her and her children and had left in a drunken rage to find ammunition for his gun to come back and kill them. The ladies of the church surrounded her and her children and took them back to the church for safety and shelter.

We saw God literally open closed doors that day to save a woman and her children. All because a teenager who knew nothing about kicking a soccer ball did it anyway. He can use anything if we are just willing to be there and be ready to participate in what He is already doing.

Living on Mission with the Hurting and Vulnerable

Living a life on mission will often place you shoulder-to-shoulder and arm-in-arm with the vulnerable and the hurting. These are moments that can be both physically and spiritually overwhelming when you see the needs and realize you seemingly have so little power to make a difference­—a drop in the ocean, as one missions’ skeptic once told me.

But that is a calculus based on what man can do. We serve a God who took five loaves and three fish and fed 5,000. Clearly, this is a different dimension of problem solving! All He asks is that we bring our meager loaves and fish to the table and let Him multiply it according to His purposes.

What does that look like? Sometimes it means acquiring additional training or honing a skill that He can use in a very particular way. But be ready. That preparation and that “yes” can take you to surprising places where you will see God working so powerfully that it takes your breath away.

I have seen Him work in amazing ways among Syrian refugees in Greece, and in a ministry planted in the middle of a garbage dump in a major Latin American city that cares for the children of the drug dealers and prostitutes who live there.

Haye (1)

I have watched Him use balloon animals to open Gospel conversations with Muslim families in a park in Cairo. I have seen the universal language of music used to connect with at-risk teens who have experienced the most unimaginable traumas. I have seen the blessing of margins of time created for one-on-one discipleship conversations with college students who are struggling to figure out how God is at work in their lives. And yes, even my white hair has been used by God to open a Gospel conversation with a Muslim village chief in Malawi.

I have also seen him at work in a church nursery as dear saints rocked my children beneath a framed needlepoint that read, “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,” (1 Corinthians 15:51); through the quiet service of those who straighten the pew racks after service or write notes of encouragement to those who are struggling. I have seen it with those who show up on Saturday to help the elderly with chores around their houses, change the oil in their cars, and deep clean their kitchens. We can all do something to serve others on mission. You don’t have to get on a plane or go to another state.

Living on mission also happens as you faithfully pray with your children each night and read them stories that point them to the goodness of God; and as they see you and your spouse serving each other sacrificially.

As a missionary friend once told me: “You just put your ‘yes’ on the table and let God put it on the map.”

Is it unsettling, and at times a disruptive way to live? Absolutely! But there is no greater joy than seeing God at work around you and answering His invitation to join in with what He is already doing.

As Jim Elliot wrote in his journal: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

May we live for His glory and for the good of those we serve!

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2023 edition of Founders magazine.

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 Patrick Henry College exists to glorify God by challenging the status quo in higher education, lifting high both faith and reason within a rigorous academic environment; thereby preserving for posterity the ideals behind the "noble experiment in ordered liberty" that is the foundation of America.


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