If you are like me, as you were growing up and trying to figure out what you wanted to do with your life, you developed an extensive list of “I’ll nevers”: I’ll never move back home once I leave, I’ll never have more than two children, I’ll never get divorced, be unemployed, live in a big city, date someone who has a cat, marry someone shorter than me, date a person who listens to country music, attend Catholic mass, love a Scorpio, become a sports junkie…The list goes on. As we got older and our lives unfolded, these “I’ll never” lists often become both comical and tragic markers of how our lives didn’t go as originally planned.
Think back on the things you said you would never do. How many of us have had to eat a large slice of humble pie because the very things we said we would never do, came to pass?
The challenge with predetermining what will never occur in our lives is that we may be limiting something God has already outlined for our future. The Scriptures tell us our days were written and numbered before there were any. God’s plan for our lives may include many of the things we have so quickly and early on ruled out.
For me, I said I would never be divorced, live back home and attend a charismatic Pentecostal style church again, just to name a few. Not only did each of those things come to pass, but ironically, each made me a better person. Often our struggle to resist the things on our “I’ll never” list puts us in contrast with the will of God and thus it is not surprising when the very thing we fight so hard to avoid comes to pass.
This is also true of things we have always hoped for our lives but have decided that they will never happen. This second “I’ll never” list is equally limiting to God’s will–I’ll never get to travel, find my soul mate, have a nice house, lose weight, have a child. Again we are substituting our judgment for the aspirations God has planned. You may never find a church that lifts you up because you said you would never attend that denomination. God may only send the perfect mate for which you have been praying when you drop your extensive criteria of must-haves you have been cultivating for years.
The point is that we cannot limit the will of God, but we can limit our own ability to live in God’s will. God’s perfect job for us may be in the country, our ideal mate may be short, a Scorpio and a cat lover. As hard as it is for us to imagine, things on any of our “I’ll never” lists may be in fact in God’s plan for our life and our dreams may begin to come true once we stop substituting our judgment for the will of God.
Discerning and staying in the will of God is difficult in any circumstance but it is especially challenging when we place artificial limits on our own lives. Instead of.focusing on the ” “I’ll never” list in your life, try opening your heart to the amazing possibilities God has in store. There is no end to what God can accomplish in our lives when we let go of “I’ll never” and grab “God can!”