How often do you hear of someone’s extraordinary life circumstances and think, That’s great for him, but I could never do that? I could never serve God overseas. I could never adopt children. I could never marry someone who was previously married.
Growing up, we develop a script for our lives. This script includes expectations of what will or will not be a part of our stories, and we make concerted efforts not to deviate from our plans. Even when we claim to fully trust God with our lives and sing “I Surrender All” regularly from our church pews, there are some activities that fall outside our imagined realms of possibility. We justify our choices by reasoning that God would never ask that of us. But what if He did? What if we have unconsciously placed the God of the universe in a box in hopes He won’t ask us to do anything too far outside of our comfort zones?
I was recently confronted with just such a choice.
As a little girl, I always dreamed of growing up and marrying my Prince Charming. He would, of course, love Jesus and be kind, brave and handsome. In my fairy tale, it went without saying that I would be his one and only, and we would live happily ever after.
Fast forward 20 years, and I am now approaching my 29th birthday, and no prince astride a white horse is coming to rescue me from my singleness. As my birthday dawns, I sit down at my computer to peruse the plethora of celebratory greetings on a social media site. Among the comments from close friends and practical strangers alike, I am perplexed to find a greeting from a guy with whom I had attended high school a decade before. He and I were never good friends in high school, so I am surprised to read a personalized message referencing a recent event from my life. Mostly out of curiosity, I respond to his greeting and ask him what he had been doing since high school. Through the course of several exchanged messages, I learn he has gone to college, was married as a young adult, has a little girl, and was divorced several years ago.
Following a few weeks of frequent communication, he asks me if I want to join him and his daughter on an ice skating excursion. I agree to go because I always enjoy making new friends, but the idea of a potential romance does not fall within the realm of possibility for me. After all, “I could never” date someone who is divorced. God would never ask me to marry someone with a past, contend with the intricacies of an ex-spouse, or raise a child who is not biologically related to me. Someone either nobler or with a past herself would better fit the bill.
After a few subsequent dates, it becomes apparent I need to make a choice. Can I believe that this may be God’s plan for me after all? Will I be willing to suspend judgment and trust in God’s redemptive power in my own life and in that of my suitor? Before I say “yes” to entering the relationship, I pray for discernment, seek godly counsel, and read biblical passages regarding justifiable marriage following divorce. Deep down, I may be looking for a red flag to excuse my decision to abandon ship before things get too serious. My desired red flag never materializes. Rather, I feel a strong leading that I should enter this relationship without reservation.
This relationship may end in marriage, or it may exist only for a season. Either way, I have learned a very important lesson: If we claim to truly trust in God’s goodness and sovereignty, we cannot place Him in a box or try to dictate how He will or will not use us. For He “is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20).
What “I could nevers” are you holding fast to? What “I could nevers” have you traded in for God’s abundant blessings?
Darcy Brown works as a records specialist for a local police department and enjoys an engaging book, a Pilates workout, and good piece of dark chocolate.
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