What’s on your list of things you’ll never do?
If you had asked me that question three years ago, four main items would have dominated my list:
- I will never work in fundraising.
- I will never work at a college or university.
- I will never be a teacher.
- I will never settle in Syracuse, New York.
Fast forward to today. I currently work in the fundraising division of a major university. I made it through graduate school by working part-time as a teaching assistant, and, you guessed it, I now own a house in Syracuse.
These were situations that absolutely did not appeal to me based on my life experiences and perceived wisdom. They were things that I told myself and others I would never do. Yet each one was within my control to say “yes” or “no” to, but with a stubborn and somewhat bitter heart, I eventually said yes to all four.
Somehow, despite how adamantly I felt about my desires and goals, God missed the memo. He directed my steps in such a way that led directly to these open doors. When I found myself at each opportunity, I wasn’t necessarily happy to arrive there, but I knew that I certainly didn’t bring myself to that place. He did. I said “yes” to my “nevers,” trusting that God could see the bigger picture and that I was there for a reason.
If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that God has a funny way of turning our nevers into guaranteed realities. Every time we say that we won’t do something, it’s a chance for Him to remind us who is ultimately in control and who holds our future. Proverbs 16:9 says, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”
Yet God doesn’t promise that we’ll immediately understand why he leads us in certain directions. In John 13:7, Jesus said to Peter, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Isaiah 55:8–9 also states, “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’”
When God opens doors that we’ve closed, taking that leap of faith can definitely be challenging. I certainly questioned my decisions and God’s plan when some of the biggest parts of my life were things I didn’t initially want. It took months for me to let go of the resentment I harbored towards God for flipping my plans upside down.
The good news is that He doesn’t ask us to step out in faith and then leave us stranded. He is an ever-present, generous, patient and merciful Savior who promises to walk with us through the ups and downs. When we humble ourselves before him, as He did for us, God will carry the weight of our concerns and lift us up because he cares for us (1 Peter 5:6–7). In time, He helped change my heart from one of doubt and frustration, to one that was stronger because of those tests of faith. I’m now beyond grateful to be exactly where He led me.
What’s more, we can find peace because God knows our life’s path. He can see the finish line and every step along the way. We may not understand why God makes our unwanted plans a reality, but we can trust that He does it for a reason: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
I encourage you to step back and survey your heart. If you had the choice, what things would you never do? Is God calling you into those opportunities? Are you pushing back, resistant to those steps of faith? Remember, with God all things are possible (Mark 19:26). It may not seem like it right now, but saying yes could be one of the best decisions of your life.