Saying Yes

Saying Yes

“I don’t know Who—or what—put the question.

I don’t know when it was put.

I don’t even remember answering.

But at some moment I did answer Yes to Someone—or Something

and from that hour

I was certain that existence is meaningful and that, therefore,

my life, in self-surrender, had a goal.”

 —Dag Hammarskjold, Markings

In my teen years and early twenties, Dag Hammarskjold’s book, Markings, captivated me. I found it in my grandmother’s library. She was an evolved woman for her time. Beautiful, smart, articulate, and full of the Holy Spirit—she was really something. My grandfather left love notes in her Bible, addressing her as “Myrtle, my queen.” Above is a photo of my grandparents when they worked in New Delhi India, after the Gandhi years.

I think what moved me about my grandmother and also Hammarskjold was their capacity to talk or write about things in a real way. Not many in their generation did.

Perhaps that’s why J.D. Salinger’s, The Catcher in the Rye, exploded on the literary scene in 1951, because few had written so honestly.

Wikipedia says, Salinger’s book still sells a quarter of a million copies every year and has been translated into nearly all the world’s major languages. “The novel deals with complex issues of identity, belonging, connection and alienation.” Not that we’ve ever needed more icons of teenage rebellion. But most people want more honesty.

It’s also why I like Don Miller’s writing voice and his breakout book, Blue Like Jazz: Non-Religious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality.  The subtitle alone hooked me. I crave authenticity.

And that craving inspired me to write, Closer Than Your Skin. I didn’t have an appetite to write a pedantic, preachy kind of non-fiction book. That would be “drivel” as one editor put it. I wanted to write honestly about the Christian journey and mostly talk about a real God—not knowledge, theology, or platitudes but tangible encounters.

Experiencing God begins with saying, “Yes.” It began that way for me, and it can begin that way for you. Hopefully it already has.

Patrisha doing her thing

Patrisha doing her thing

Let me share one of my “yes” encounters.

Ray Hughes spoke at a Bozeman conference in July 2009. My friend Patrisha Gazy, a prophetic artist, was asked to paint. During the worship time, she started working on a large canvas up near the stage.

At that time in my life, my book had been published and in stores for 19 months. I’d also completed a 34-cities, 55-events, book tour that I paid for and organized. It took a ton of time and energy and was a financial risk. By God’s grace, book sales paid for it in the end.

My editor encouraged me to write another book—maybe a novel this time. Are you kidding? A prophetic lady I met on the tour prophesied that I would write many books. (BTW, there are two other prolific authors named, “Susan Hill,” both from England—maybe she confused me with them!)

The truth? I couldn’t even imagine it. I was tired.

So God decided to approach the subject in a different way, and one night I had a dream. In the dream, I am a homeless lady, carrying all my writing papers in two large grocery bags. I go to the home office of my publisher, but I don’t feel welcome there.

Here I am in my orange blazer on book tour

Here I am in my orange blazer on book tour

My editor is wearing an orange blazer, symbolic of his affection for my work (re: the orange on my book’s cover). Another woman in the office is wearing a faded orange blazer. Suddenly the top executive says, “You should leave now.” My editor starts to weep.  I sink down to the floor with my bags of writing.

“What will I do…where will I go?” I say under my breath.

At that moment, a woman walks in and sits down in front of me, mirroring my body position exactly. She has long hair, the same color as mine. She’s wearing a brown turtleneck and looks nine months pregnant. All at once, she goes into labor.

In a flash, I realize—she is the “me” that God sees.

I view myself as “homeless” writer. God sees me as someone likely to to give birth again, ready to produce another book.

It was a stunning dream. I understood it right away.

Patrisha's painting at the Ray Hughes conference

Patrisha’s painting at the Ray Hughes conference

So back to Ray Hughes and the conference. Patrisha’s painting depicted a pregnant person sitting down—very similar to the brown-turtleneck woman in my dream. I watch the image develop with each stroke of her brush. As her work neared completion, Ray Hughes got around to his message about the virgin Mary…a story you know.

An angel told Mary staggering news. Not only would she be the Messiah’s mother, she’d also get pregnant supernaturally. Ray basically said Mary lifted up a hand to the Lord and agreed saying, “May it be done to me according to your word.” Luke added, “For nothing will be impossible with God.”

All Mary had to do was say, “Yes!” God would give her the rest.

I looked at Patrisha’s painting. How did she know Ray would talk about that? She painted a spiritually pregnant “person” (so men could relate) with a lifted hand in effect agreeing with the Lord of heaven and earth.

I was astonished. Ray’s message, Patrisha’s painting, and my dream all went together. I knew God was asking something of me that felt impossible—but all He wanted was my “Yes.”

I bought the painting.   (To be continued…)

Has God asked you to do something impossible? What’s your story…



  1. usually the impossible things have been when he has asked me to love someone i didn’t want to or think was in any way available to my heart. when this has happened i’ve needed to ask him to do it “as me” like it says in the bible. we are containers and “as he is, so are we to this world.” and in desperation, at those times i’ve had to remind myself (and him!) that with you (god!) all things are possible so you gotta show up here. and it’s nothing short of miraculous how he gives me grace and even more love for a difficult person that i imagined could ever come to pass. sometimes actually more than i wanted! which i must admit is pretty freakin’ beyond cool. god is love.

    • That’s a good one Suzee. Loving difficult people. It’s one thing if it’s the past, but in ongoing situations it’s tough without God. And I agree. My friend Erli has taught me a lot about asking for supernatural power to love someone. God comes through every time.