Table of Contents


Key takeaways

  • Following God often requires taking risks and stepping out of our comfort zone.
  • God has a unique destiny planned for each of us; complacency and fear stop us from realizing it.
  • God wants us to live with passion, looking forward to what’s next instead of living timidly or afraid.

Truly God is good to Israel, to those whose hearts are pure. But as for me, I almost lost my footing. My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone. 

[23] Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny.

Psalm 73:1-2,23-24 NLT

I love this promise that God will lead us to a glorious destiny.

His plans for us are bigger than anything we could imagine or accomplish on our own. All we have to do is let him guide us. 

And that’s where we often get stuck.

Following God often means taking risks; we can’t live out a glorious destiny and curl up in our comfort zone at the same time. We may need to let go of some things we’re holding on to, or do things we’re afraid to do. 

Before becoming a Christian, I was extremely shy. I could go days without talking to anyone, simply living quietly in my head. I would lie and say I was busy when invited to social events because I would get stressed about interacting with people. I wasn’t necessarily happy with this because I knew I was missing out on a lot, but I accepted it. In some ways, it was comfortable; I was free from the stress, fear, and anxiety I felt in social situations. 

When I became a Christian, I learned that it was important to build relationships and love others—which involved learning to talk to them. I wanted to love and care about people, but my fear fought me at every turn (and to be honest, it still does). Even basic social skills were hard for me. I felt nervous even smiling and saying hello to people when I entered a room. But my faith in God’s vision for my life pushed me to keep trying.

What I didn’t realize then was every time I said yes to God and decided to connect with someone else, my fear got smaller. God was leading me to a much better life where I have close friendships and a marriage I never would have had if I had stayed in my comfortable little box. 

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

John 10:10 NLT

Satan often uses our fear to steal opportunities and kill our hope for the future. He lies to us, telling us that God’s way is too hard and won’t turn out well. So we settle. We stop trying to lead. We stop trying to grow. We stop trying to care and be vulnerable in our relationships. We stop praying bold prayers. We make a deal with fear, as the lyrics to this song describe: 

I made a deal with fear, You keep me warm, I’ll stay here
Been addicted to comfort, and it’s not even real
I know complacency, it is a silent kill
In all transparency I love the way that it feels.
Give me a box and I’ll stay in it
Deal me the cards and I’ll play with ’em
Lord, deliver me from my apathy
Tired of living for myself, You know it’s killing me.

Terrian, “Waking Up”

Instead of saying no to God out of fear, this devotional will give us a few ways to say yes to God and his plan for us (even when we’re scared).

Pause and reflect

  • Have I made a deal with fear in any area of my life? What are some things I know God wants me to do, but I’m resisting because I’m afraid?
  • How could God be trying to lead me to a glorious destiny?

Say yes to spending time with God

When we’re afraid to do something God wants us to do, sometimes we avoid him completely. When this is the case, we can start with one simple decision: just say yes to spending time with God.  

“People of Israel, you are unfaithful to me, but come back to me. Come back and I will forgive you for being unfaithful. “Just say, ‘Yes, we will come back, because you are the LORD our God.

Jeremiah 3:22 ERV

In this passage addressed to people who had been saying no to God for quite some time, God gives one simple command. He tells them to just say yes to one thing: their relationship with him. 

Even if we don’t yet feel like we can say yes to the way God wants us to live, we can say yes to spending time with him. We can say yes to listening to his Word.

Israel, I, the LORD, will lure you into the desert and speak gently to you. I will return your vineyards, and then Trouble Valley will become Hopeful Valley. You will say “Yes” to me as you did in your youth, when leaving Egypt. I promise that from that day on, you will call me your husband instead of your master.

Hosea 2:14-16 CEV

Reading the Bible is how we hear God speak to us. As this passage describes, God’s Word will change our hearts and help us want to follow him. As we hear him speak to us gently, we will begin to hope for a better life instead of settling for whatever is in front of us. We will begin to believe God’s promises instead of believing our fearful thoughts. God’s Word will tell us the truth about the paths we are on, and gently help us find hope about the life God is guiding us toward.

Pause and reflect

  • What are some things in my life that feel too hard to change?
  • How have I been handling my feelings about those areas? How could the Bible help?
  • How do I view spending time with God? Do I see it as just a time to be told not to do things, or a time I can get hope and guidance?

Say yes to God’s grace

God’s grace has now appeared. By his grace, God offers to save all people. His grace teaches us to say no to godless ways and sinful desires. We must control ourselves. We must do what is right. We must lead godly lives in today’s world. That’s how we should live as we wait for the blessed hope God has given us. We are waiting for Jesus Christ to appear in his glory. He is our great God and Savior. He gave himself for us. By doing that, he set us free from all evil. He wanted to make us pure. He wanted us to be his very own people. He wanted us to desire to do what is good.

Titus 2:11-14 NIrV

God’s grace is undeserved favor and love. It means he not only wants to forgive our sins but also shower us with blessings we don’t deserve. Grace helps us understand that we are turning to a God whose plans for our lives are much better than anything we deserve. He sent his son Jesus to die on the cross so that we could be freed from guilt and experience eternal life with him.

This understanding of grace is key to saying no to our fears. Because we know God is on our side and has unlimited love and kindness to give us, we can say no to small, unsatisfying substitutes for God’s good plans and say yes to courageous, hopeful lives. 

Without an understanding of the grace of God, we tend to settle for much less than what God desires for us. We take our lives into our own hands and look for instant gratification. That’s what the following passage describes:

When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

Galatians 5:19-21 NLT

Fear makes us settle. We accept things like immorality and impurity instead of believing it’s possible to find the love and intimacy we desire. Fear makes us settle for hostility and quarreling in our relationships instead of being vulnerable and forgiving to find peace. My fear of rejection often makes me settle for a life controlled by selfish ambition—I’m so scared of not being good enough or being a failure that I feel like I have to be a perfect success at everything I do. While my selfish ambition motivates me to work hard, it often makes me shortsighted and leads me to work hard on the wrong things. I’ll spend too much energy on perfecting a small project because I want it to be impressive instead of investing in training and inspiring others around me, or working together with them as a team. I also run out of energy for the things that really matter, like my family and friends. 

Even when I recognize that I’m settling for a life of selfish ambition, it’s hard to let go. Luckily, just a few verses later, God gives us an alternative list of things we can say yes to:

But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. 

Galatians 5:22-23 AMP

I think this second list describes a much happier and more fulfilling life. These are the things we truly want; when I am driven by selfish ambition, what I really desire is inner peace. I want to calm down the raging negativity and insecurity in my head, but no amount of accomplishment can do that. Understanding that God wants to give me peace helps me want to say no to my selfish ambition and reprioritize my life so that I value being close to him more than being successful. 

God’s grace means he desires to give us a fulfilling life with intimate relationships here on earth, and eternal life in the world to come. This passage says all these fruits come into our lives as a result of God’s presence within us; that means we don’t have to try to force them. The more time we spend with God, the more he will fill our lives with these things. 

When we understand and believe this, we find more courage to say no to our fearful desire to settle or control our lives and trust God to take care of us instead. 

Pause and reflect

  • What have I been settling for because I’m afraid to hope for something better?
  • How would saying no to settling improve my life?

Say yes to God’s help

He will answer the prayer of those who don’t have anything. He won’t say no to their cry for help.

Psalm 102:17 NIrV

If we’re struggling to conquer our fear and say yes to God, we don’t have to muster up the power on our own. God will answer when we ask for help. 

Some of the most powerful and impactful leaders of the Bible said no to God’s plan initially because they were afraid. Moses, who led millions of Israelites out of slavery and became one of the most well-known people in the Bible, protested God’s plan many times (Exodus 3-4). He didn’t feel like he was the right person for the job. But God didn’t intend for him to do the job alone; he promised to be with him every step of the way. Moses found strength not from his own talents or abilities but from his honest connection with the God who would go with him. 

Similarly, when God puts a path in front of us that we don’t think we can walk, we need to know that we were never intended to walk it alone. God wants to help us, and one humble prayer can open up a world of power. 

The Lord GOD is my strength [my source of courage, my invincible army]; He has made my feet [steady and sure] like hinds’ feet And makes me walk [forward with spiritual confidence] on my high places [of challenge and responsibility].

Habakkuk 3:19 AMP

We can walk forward on God’s path with confidence and without fear when we make God the source of our strength and courage.

Say yes to God’s people 

If good people correct me, I will consider it a good thing. If they criticize me, I will accept it like a warm welcome. 

Psalm 141:5 ERV

One reason we struggle to follow God is we say ‘no’ to the spiritual friends who try to help us. 

We need friends to give us faith that we can change and help us identify the ways our fear is leading us astray, which we’re often blind to on our own. 

Unfortunately, when I feel like something is too hard to change, I go to great lengths to keep people from giving me suggestions that might push me out of my comfort zone:

  • Hiding: I know I’m not doing what God wants in a certain area of my life, but I don’t bring up the issue unless others ask. 
  • Reacting: I get angry and emotional, and usually point the finger back at the person who tried to bring up an area I need to change. 
  • Defending: I defend myself by pointing out all the good I have done in the past.
  • Moping: I wallow in self-pity, feeling sad and overwhelmed at how difficult it feels to change. 

Underneath these defense mechanisms, the real issue is how deeply stuck, discouraged, ashamed, and afraid I feel inside. I am very grateful to have spiritual friends who have stayed with me even when I have tried hard to push them away because they could see past my behavior to my deep, vulnerable needs. 

Recently, I’ve been getting very easily angry at home, and I haven’t been able to figure out why or how to change. I started sharing how powerless I felt with a few good friends, and they helped me see that my angry reactions probably came from areas I needed more help. They encouraged me that the more I shared my feelings of weaknesses, the less angry I would probably get. I felt so relieved and hopeful that my anger could change, and the whole experience reminded me how important it is to open my heart to spiritual friends. 

When our fear is strong, we must remember that God never intended for us to live spiritual lives by ourselves. He knew we would need a team around us:

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NLT

Letting spiritual friends into our hearts will give us the encouragement, accountability, and advice we need to experience victories. Friends who are truly spiritual won’t judge or criticize us or act superior in the process; they’ll have their own burdens to carry, and they’ll be changing right along with us. 

God has saved me from myself many times through the help of faithful friends who spoke up and guided me back onto God’s path. This helps me know that as long as I surround myself with friends who have spiritual convictions, I’ll eventually find the faith to live God’s way (even if I have to borrow some of their faith first). 

Additional passages

Pause and reflect

  • How do I respond to the advice and influence of spiritual friends?
  • What are some areas in which I need to invite spiritual help?

Say yes to God’s purpose

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Those who want to come with me must say no to the things they want, pick up their crosses, and follow me. Those who want to save their lives will lose them. But those who lose their lives for me will find them. What good will it do for people to win the whole world and lose their lives? Or what will a person give in exchange for life?

Matthew 16:24-26 GW

In this passage, Jesus tells his disciples that in order to follow him, they must say no to the things they want. He is offering them a meaningful life and the ability to find who they really are, but warns them that they could get in their own way.

This passage is the one that inspired me to become a Christian. Until then, everything in my life was about getting what I wanted. But in the process, I had lost myself to selfish ambition and envy, and I would sell out for any kind of attention. I became mean and competitive in my head, always looking for ways to be better than others, while I acted nice on the outside. 

I didn’t want to be the kind of person I was, and these words of Jesus taught me that my life was meant for something bigger. By following Jesus and being his disciple, I could be part of changing the world. I could change people’s lives for the better and leave a lasting impact on the world. This was clearly much better and more satisfying than any quick fix of pleasure, success, or attention. 

It is still hard to say no to my own way, but it’s easier when I remember what I’m choosing.

This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!

Romans 8:15-17 MSG

Saying yes to God’s purpose means living an adventurously expectant life of “What’s next” and being confident about who we are in this world. We don’t need to fearfully shrink into a small life; we can walk forward with joy as we look for what God will do in our lives. 

Final thoughts

God believes in us and wants to take us by the hand to lead us to a glorious destiny. Along this path, we will often encounter things that require courage and faith. When we feel resistant, afraid, and tempted to say no to God, we need to remember all the things we are saying yes to. God’s grace, love, help, and purpose are better than anything this world could offer us. The people God puts in our lives will help us if we let them. With God and his people on our side, we will experience victories we never thought possible. 

Say Yes to God 7

Amy is a writer and editor for Deep Spirituality. She studied psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and has over a decade of experience in mentoring, counseling and community organizing.

Say Yes to God 7

Amy is a writer and editor for Deep Spirituality. She studied psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and has over a decade of experience in mentoring, counseling and community organizing.

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