I’ll never overcome this, I’ll never outlive that, I’ll never fit in, I’ll never have what it takes, I’ll never change. We’ve all spoken variations of I’ll never and believed whole-heartedly in our own promises until we find ourselves doing and becoming exactly what we vowed we wouldn’t.
I’ve been absolutely sure for years now that rap music is not my thing. My husband loves rap music (of the Christian variety, these days). The words are too fast and too loud for me. I’ve vowed that I’ll never listen to rap music or, at the very least, I’ll never enjoy it.
I’m not very good at keeping my own promises.
My three-year-old (who loves to sing) also loves loud music, fast music, and rap music. She jams with her daddy with the windows rolled down, tiny fists pumping from her car seat in the back. Ever since she started talking, she’s made song requests each time we climb in the car, like I’m her personal DJ. Her song selection of choice is almost always her daddy’s beats.
Because she’s adorable and it elicits pure joy in her, I say yes every single time. And guess what? Those songs are some of my favorites now. Listening to them on repeat has helped me pay attention and learn the words, and the message is truth. I have no problem with my toddler belting out lines that proclaim Jesus’ name.
When we use absolutes with regard to ourselves or others, it always sets us up to be proven wrong. “I’ll never” can be two of the most dangerous words. Here’s why: I’ll never is a derivative of you’ll never.
“You will not surely die,” are the slippery words from the serpent recorded in Genesis 3:4. Because Satan cannot see our heart or the growth taking place within it, he clings to all he has access to: our past. Every mistake, failure, regret. He flings them in front of us, using each one to build a case of how we’ll never do such and such.
Ultimately, our enemy wants us to believe we’ll never be free.
It becomes the easiest thing to nod our heads and say, “You must be right.” We do it all the time. But with every nonchalant agreement, our hearts veer away from God and all He created us to be.
I’ll never do that again, we say, regarding trivial matters like wearing skinny jeans and monumental matters like trusting someone with our story. We say, I’ll never go there, until God leads us by the hand to that very place. I’ll never be like her, we believe, until we glance at our own reflection in an honest light and realize we aren’t so different after all.
We change our minds and somehow expect God to change His. But God c a n n o t change. He is unchangeable. So, when the voice creeps in that says, I’ll never be enough, remember God already says you are. He won’t change His mind on that. Ever. God is absolutely sure of Himself.
The difference between God and us is being and becoming.
God is absolutely pure in His being. His perfections, His purposes, and His promises are all unchangeable. Unlike God, we are becoming. Not yet there. In progress. Our souls cannot support the weight of absolutes. The agreements we make might be simple like deciding our taste in fashion or music will remain the same, or they might be complicated and weigh heavy on our hearts.
An honest question to ask ourselves is, “Who is this absolute tethered to?” Only One is absolutely true to His word and not subject to change.
Peter said, “I’ll never deny you, Lord,” and then he did. Thomas said, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” When Jesus held out his nail-scarred hands, doubting Thomas became a believer.
I can personally relate to their faith struggles, their battles with absolutes, the ease with which they make stone-clad agreements only to watch them crumble. But as we watch their stories unfold throughout scripture, we see Jesus love them, forgive them, change them, use them, and set their hearts free.
God invites us to live under the same banner of His absolute, unchanging love.
As Peter and Thomas walked in relationship with Jesus, they traded their own absolutes for His. Those same two words that echoed the first lie ever told, “I’ll never,” instead became beautiful words that defined their new faith.
Never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth. Genesis 9:11
I will never leave or forsake you. Joshua 1:5
I will never break my covenant with you. Judges 2:1
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end. Lamentations 3:22
The God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed. Daniel 2:44
You’ll never thirst again. John 4:14
All that the Father gives me will come to me, whoever comes to me I will never cast out. John 6:37
I will never blot his name out of the book of life. Revelation 3:5
I don’t know about you, but I’m standing with absolute certainty on the promise that Love never ends and God never lies. I’ll be the momma in the car pool lane with the window cracked so that beautiful base spills out obnoxiously loud.