You’ve heard it…’never say never’. It’s truly become comical in my life, this pattern of me assuring others of this thing I’ll never do…only to be humbled by God later. The end result is typically me realizing it was precisely the thing He had for me, and it was good.
Nowadays, in conversations about life decisions, I may say I have no intention of doing something in particular. However, I’m quick to follow that up with ‘but I’ve learned to never say never.’
I’ve determined there are some common factors underlying all of my significant ‘nevers’.
I’m wondering if these ring true for anyone else?
A few of my ‘nevers’ have been deeply rooted in fear. Feeble attempts at self-preservation or avoidance of anything resembling a challenge. I’ve come to realize that for me, the greater potential something has to be a blessing in my life, the more it seems there is to lose. This results in a tendency to avoid whatever it may be out of fear of being hurt, disappointed, jaded, etc.
I’m also learning, however, to recognize the difference between short-sighted fear which can be paralyzing, and God-given discernment which leads to caution.
Over and over in scripture, we are told not to be anxious. So anything I find myself avoiding because I’m afraid of an uncertain outcome, I remind myself that any fear in the form of anxiety and worry is not from God. “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7 ESV
Rather, when faced with uncertainty and the potential for hurt and disappointment, I can rest in the truth of God’s sovereignty, and ask for the things He has told me I can ask for. Like wisdom. If a situation has true cause for avoidance, I can trust that the Holy Spirit knows that and is able to guide me-provided I’m able to recognize His voice as a result of consistent communion with Him and the Word.
“fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 ESV
Unfortunately, many of my ‘nevers’ have been rooted in pride. Whether it was an attempt to avoid embarrassment or simply avoiding seeking the Lord on a matter, the root was the same. My mind was on myself…my need to be seen a certain way…my belief that I knew best.
I’m reminded of something I’ve read from Lysa TerKeurst.
“Thinking, talking, and complaining about things is not the same as praying for them.”
Pride says, “I don’t need to seek the Lord on this decision”.
‘Pride before a fall’ isn’t just a Pinterest catch-phrase, it’s scriptural warning.
“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18 ESV
Often, my ‘nevers’ have been rooted in the fact that I was emphatic about something I didn’t have full knowledge of, or the life experience to provide a fuller perspective. I suppose this can be closely linked to pride, but I do think there is a distinction. With pride, there is a willful ignorance because I believe I can figure out what’s best on my own. Sometimes, though, my ignorance simply stems from the fact that I couldn’t foresee all that would take place which would ultimately change my mind.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9 ESV
Whatever the root, the result has been the same. Over and over again, I’ve been humbled by God when I’ve arrogantly declared what I would never do. And over and over again He has shown me that His ways are truly best…for bringing about my good and His glory.
So what have you been saying ‘never’ to? Could it be that God has something greater than you can imagine planned?
“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 ESV