Originally published Friday, 21 August 2015.
Lots of people talk about having a "bucket list" a list of things they want to do or experience in their life. I certainly have places I'd like to visit and things I'd like to experience in my life. I suppose we all do.
I also have things that I never want to do. Instead of a "bucket list" it's more like an "I never" list. On that list you'd find sky diving. Or visiting Antartica. Or acting on Broadway. And learning to play the drums.
Recently, we did something I would never have thought I'd find myself doing. We took our boys to a monster truck show. My boys loved it. I was just glad I brought ear plugs.
I've had many other things in my life I thought I'd never do...but did:
*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 Sunday school
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. God took Paul from hating Christians to becoming one.
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 our weakness and makes us 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. And sometimes that transformation hurts. Sometimes it's uncomfortable. Sometimes it takes us outside our comfort zones and into places we'd never imagine and to places we said we would never go.
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 has laid out for me, I find it brings me to closer to him and satisfies the deepest longings of my soul.
I think its time I stop writing "I'll never" lists. Instead I will make an open-ended "What God has done in me" 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.
Who knows what I'll find on that list one day...perhaps even a visit to Antartica or a jump from an airplane.
How about you? What's on your "I'll Never" list?