It was about 6 years ago that the Missions Committee at New Durham Chapel requested that I should go on a Missions trip. I had been invited earlier to come (by our missionary Shibu Simon) to India to teach at Kerala Baptist Bible College in Kerala India. My first response was to question why the Missions committee felt that would be valuable for the church. Mrs. Dottie Beirn, who had initiated the request, stated she felt it would be a good example for the whole church to see their Pastor go on the mission field. I was surprised to learn in NDC’s stored missions’ history that they had never sent their pastor on a missionary trip. Other reasons were given such as “it would be good for the pastor to have a world view”. In the following 2 years God would provide abundantly enough not only for me to go to India but to take one of my elders and his son along on what turned out to be an incredibly remarkable ministry experience. I was personally struck by the poverty there (though Kerala is one of the wealthiest state) the heat and the living conditions. I still remember the sights, sounds and scents of India though it was certainly not a place I wanted to hurry back to.
In fact, shortly after my visit someone asked me “when are you going back?” I started to immediately respond with “I am nev”; I didn’t quite get the statement out of my mouth when I caught myself. You see whenever we say “I am never going to_________” fill in the blank, we establish ourselves as lord of our own lives. When we say “I’ll never speak to that person again, I’ll never forgive such and such, I’ll never go to that church again”, or whatever area it might be we are telling God that He is not in charge of that area of our lives. The more areas of our lives we tell God He is not in control of the smaller and smaller His influence becomes in our lives. Also in telling God “I’ll never” we can’t or don’t see the possibility of God working in that area in our lives and we harden our hearts against God’s convicting Spirit. When this happens pretty soon our hearts become callous and we cease hearing God’s Spirit speak to our hearts and lives in any area.
Once I caught myself in response to the question regarding my return to India I said “I will go back when God makes it clear to me that He wants me to go and provides the resources for me to do so”. God has recently clearly spoken to my heart about returning to India, though that’s not the natural inclination of my desires, so I will trust Him to provide the resources for the trip.
One area that I am especially grateful I didn’t put a “never” before was in a dating relationship I was once involved with. I once dated a young lady for over a year in what you might call a non-serious relationship. In November of 1976 I called to set up a date and she told me she was seeing someone else and wouldn’t be seeing me anymore. I was deeply hurt as I liked and respected her very much. I am glad I didn’t put a “never” after that relationship seemingly ended because that young lady would ultimately become the woman who has shared the last 35 years of my life with me. Never tell God never, because you don’t know how He is going to lead. Let Him be the only one who decides your future.
All for Christ,