Originally published Tuesday, 02 July 2013.
Standing at a hang gliding bluff, we watched a man take off and soar into the sky. It was a cloudless day, warm and breezy. The kids watched the take off in wide-eyed amazement. I did too.
A friend with us voiced a desire to go hang gliding someday. I looked at the distance from the top of the mountain to the valley below and shook my head. "Nope. Not me. I'll never go hang gliding."
I wonder if God ever laughs when I say those three words, "I will never..."
I've had many "I will never's" in my life:
*I will never move to Florida.
*I will never be a stay-at-home mom
*I will never drive a mini van
*I will never homeschool
*I will never teach
Guess what? I have done every one of those things. I imagine the apostle Paul once had an "I never" list as well. Perhaps "I'll never be a Christian" was at the top. Remember what happened to him? He was struck blind on the way to cheerlead a crowd of Christian haters. But along the way he met Christ on the road and was never the same since. God took Paul from hating Christians to becoming one.
And God does the same with us. He defies the impossible, taking our hearts of stone and turning them into hearts of flesh. He gives life where there was death. He awakens hope where there was only despair. He rescues us from ourselves and changes us from the inside out.
The way God works in our lives, changing us, molding us, transforming us is remarkable. He moves us from where we were to where he created us to be. He takes the weak and makes them strong. He gives us just what we need to transform us into the likeness of his Son.
And sometimes, that means going against our "I'll never" list.
Because he knows that what matters most is our heart transformation. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it's uncomfortable. Sometimes it takes us outside our comfort zones and into places we'd never imagine and to places we'd said we would never go.
Friend's of ours have followed God's call to leave all that was known and comfortable to travel to another country to spread the gospel. Other friends have sacrificed every penny and then some to love and cherish those without parents to love them. Still others have done the unexpected, gone beyond the norm and embraced the life of an upside down kingdom follower.
All too often, I resist the way God works. Instead of abandoning myself to the story he has written for me, I go my own way. I stomp my feet and say, "I said I would never do that and I won't!" Failing to yield to God's work in me makes my life that much harder. And yet, during those times that I do submit to what God is doing in me, I find that he is leading me to where I really need to go. I find unexpected joy and surprising peace. When I stop resisting and follow the path God's laid out for me, I find it brings me to closer to him and satisfies the aching parts of my soul.
I think its time I stop writing "I'll never" lists. Instead I will make an open-ended "I'll always follow Christ" list. That will be the list that God writes instead of me. There I can write down the remarkable and amazing ways he's taken me from where I've been to what I've been created to be. On that list I can write the ways he's done the impossible through me and in spite of me. I can document the places he brought me that I thought I'd never go, the person he made me that I thought I'd never be, and all the things I've done that I said I would never do.
And perhaps one day, on that list I'll find this: I went hang gliding.
What on your "I'll Never" list?