I get irritated when people slow down way too much at yield signs. I don’t honk or anything, but I explain to them why there is plenty of space for them to move into the oncoming traffic. They can’t hear me. But I still tell them. And then God started working an understanding of the word “yield” into my heart and mind, and now I think I should probably hang a yield sign in my kitchen or something.
So, what does “yield” call to mind for me? Yield signs tell us to slow down, look around. Proceed with caution. If we must “yield”, it implies that we were moving quickly for a bit but are now called to change our pace for a purpose: to slow down, to look around, to better navigate our way in the world of traffic. We weren’t wrong to be moving quickly, but it’s not safe to sustain that pace.
“Yield” also implies to submit your will to another, to lay down your right of way.
And scripture also uses the word “yield” to describe a harvest or fruit-bearing. A plant can yield something good and life-giving. Genesis 1:12 describes “plants yielding seeds according to their own kinds…And God saw that it was good.”
And so, synonymous with “yield” is (1) slow down; rest, (2) submit; make room for God and others; (3) bear fruit. If I can take time in my busy life to yield, I believe these three things will happen, and probably in that very order.
In our culture today, it is much easier to desire the prestige that comes with work, with a busy schedule, with overloaded commitments than with peace, calm, quiet, stillness. We value productivity and feel it can only be accomplished in a flurry of busyness. We have an instinct to protect our interests, to fight for our rights. But I believe there is also a “productivity” that exists in the stillness and the quiet, in the watching and the waiting, in the resting and the yielding. When we rest, it is easier to notice our pride, our selfish ambition, our ungodly habits. The discipline of rest produces something inside our souls that we cannot produce ourselves. Stillness means silencing our own will, our own desires, our own work. We step aside and let the Great Master do His might work in the deep places of our soul. Our knowing Him comes in the moments of quiet intimacy together with Him. He directly tells us this when He says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Stillness is where we learn to hear His voice and understand His will.
As our calendars fill up, may we not neglect times of sacred rest.
In the stillness, I can see where my will may not be in line with God’s. In the yielding, I let Him go ahead of me so I can better see Him and follow Him. He becomes the director of my life because I’ve taken pause and allowed Him to show me where to go rather than barreling through with my own agenda.
In the stillness, I pause long enough to look at what else is around me rather than focus solely on myself and my immediate interests. Maybe I will even take notice of a need I would have missed had I rushed through with my overloaded checklist, oblivious to the needy, forgotten, and invisible people in my world.
In the stillness, I can connect with the one who restores, reconciles, and redeems all that is imperfect in me and the world around me. I need this restoration and redemption if I am to truly do the Father’s will. Because of the rest and restoration, I can bear good, healthy fruit that is meaningful and God-glorifying.
In the stillness, I can yield. I want to take time today to slow down, to rest, to hear the voice of God and submit to the Holy Spirit, to love others by not demanding my own rights, to give God space to convict, restore, forgive, and heal me, for the purpose of producing something in my life that is part of a story much bigger than myself.
As the fall season approaches, work we must. And work is good! Yet there is a time for each season. There is an Old Testament commandment to keep the Sabbath holy, which God himself modeled for us by resting on the seventh day. As our calendars fill up, may we not neglect times of sacred rest. May we commit to spend time with God, alone, in the quiet, in the stillness. May we cuddle up with Him and allow Him to sow what is holy, just, and good in the deep places of our hearts and souls that the fruit of our lives will reflect His goodness and His love.
I think God is wise to use a word like “yield” to remind me of this lesson as school begins, for I will see a yield sign every day when school is in session. Every time my vehicle yields the right of way to another car (or I get frustrated about how long the car in front of me is yielding), I will be reminded to slow down more than just my car and yield to God Himself. When I don’t properly yield/rest/submit, it will be easy to fall into a selfish pattern that stretches me thin, keeps me distracted from the things of God, and probably leads me to bear some kind of fruit that is akin to a rotten grape or a poisonous berry. So let the yielding and the resting begin! God, please help me. 🙂
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass us against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.