Never Say Never.

Ok, be honest. When you saw the name of my blog post (before you saw the picture) the Justin Bieber song totally popped into your head… It’s ok, it popped into mine too.

Well, never saying never is a lesson I should’ve learned long before the Biebs ever made the term famous. But unfortunately, I’m just now realizing what the implications are of saying never to God. And true to the way God teaches us things, I’m also experiencing deeper levels of His love and mercy at the same time.

Have you ever NOT wanted to do something you were told to do, but ended up doing it anyway, and realized it was the BEST thing to ever happen to you? I have. Multiple times. And every time it involved me saying “I’d NEVER do that.” But even Justin knows that you should never say never.

“The heart of man plans his way,

but the Lord establishes his steps.”

Proverbs 16:9

The first time this happened I was a senior in college. I was involved in Cru at West Chester University, and everyone knew joining staff after college was highly encouraged by the Cru staff there. I went to a conference in the spring called, “Next” which was basically about life after college. The focus of the conference was how to continue walking with God after college without the accountability of Cru. As well as how to have an eternal perspective while choosing your career and making other life choices. Obviously, one of the topics was joining staff with Cru. I remember specifically telling my roommate, Holli, “I’ll listen to what they have to say, but I will NEVER join staff.”

Well, if you know anything about my current job, you already know how this story ends. We went to a meeting about being an event coordinator, and part of it was focused on an opportunity to do that on staff by being on a team that plans all the student and staff conferences for the region. In the middle of the meeting, Holli looked at me and said, “I could totally see you doing this, Jenn.” And since I was feeling the same way, I knew I couldn’t ignore it. Long story short, I’ve been on staff for 5 years now. And even when I married a guy who wasn’t on staff and thought I may end up leaving, he completely changed his mind about staff when he heard God calling him to ministry and now he too is on staff!

Second time was when my brother and sister-in-law decided to continue living in Indiana after graduating from Taylor University. I remember thinking, “who would ever want to live in Indiana?! I would NEVER live there.” (Again, if you know anything about where I met my husband, you know the ending.) When I was in the spring of my 2nd internship with Cru, I had to decide if I wanted to join staff on a more long term basis. I felt God calling me into high school ministry, but there weren’t really any ministries near Philadelphia. So I looked on the website, and guess where I found a huge ministry? You got it. Indiana. I tried to ignore it, but after randomly meeting one of those Hoosier staff members in the bathroom at a wedding of a friend in Virginia (random and confusing, I know) I again knew I couldn’t ignore God. And in May 2011 I moved to Fishers, IN. And guess who I ended up meeting in Indiana? You got it again. My husband, Stuart.

So if I had ended up getting “my way,” I never would have joined staff, and never would have moved to Indiana. But what I didn’t know at the time of saying “never” to those two things: I also never would have met the guy who has become one of the biggest blessings and sources of happiness in my life, or met some of the most amazing friends ever in Indiana and on staff.

And my last “never say never” occurrence is actually more recent and still in the “discovery” stage. As I previously posted about, our placement with Athletes in Action is in Xenia, OH, and at first I was not happy about it. I’d been to Xenia a few times before, and for some reason I told Stuart I’d NEVER live there. I really didn’t want to leave Columbus unless it meant moving back to Indiana (oh the irony) or back home to Pennsylvania. But no, we were moving just an hour west to a new city and the one place I said I never wanted to live.

And when I say it’s still in the “discovery” stage, it’s because we still haven’t moved there, so I have yet to see the ending. But I’m sure that Xenia is going to surprise me in the best way possible. If my other “never say never” instances have taught me anything, I bet I’ll end up falling in love with Xenia, and it’ll be one of the best things I do with my life. I wouldn’t be surprised if I end up wanting to live there forever. Just because that’s the way God works.

Hopefully the term “third time’s a charm” rings true in my life. Hopefully I’ve learned my lesson to never say never to God, to roll with the punches, and keep my hands open to anything He calls me to. He’s never yet failed to bring me the biggest blessings out of the things I thought would be the worst moments of my life. And really, who am I to say what tomorrow should bring to a God who knows infinitely more than I ever will? His plans for my life are always so much better than my imagined “perfect life,” and I need to live my life in submission to Him so I can live my best life possible.

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’ – yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

James 4:13-15