There is a game my students used to love playing. It is called “I’ve never…” The premise of the game is to state experiences you have never had in hopes the other players have had them. The person with the longest list of lack of experiences wins the game. For the last ten years God and I have been playing a slightly twisted version of this game. It is called: “I will never….” Here is how it goes: I say “I will never….” and God laughs. He must be really good at this game because he is yet to lose.
In college I was a Resident Assistant in a Freshman dorm at a small Christian university. I spent many evenings counseling sobbing Freshmen girls who would come in shaking because some upperclassman, religion major told them the Almighty himself pronounced they would marry each other some day. I vowed to never marry a religion major.
In December I will celebrate ten years of marriage to my husband, the pastor. Being his wife has been one of the greatest blessings God has given me. The man is unparalleled, in my humble opinion.
When I graduated from college with a degree in Communication Education, my goal was to teach debate and drama. Being a native Spanish speaker, I let my advisor convince me to pursue an endorsement in Spanish as well, just in case, she said. I told her I would never, ever, ever, EVER teach Spanish. This is only plan B, I said.
God laughed… I think that time I actually heard him.
When I started looking for a job, there were no Communication jobs to be found. I taught Spanish for the better part of seven years and I discovered that teaching teenagers a new language also opens up their eyes to new cultures and a new worldview. Very cool. In the process my life was enriched by some amazing kids who shared their stories with me and still do. Even cooler.
When Matt graduated from the Seminary and began his search for a church to pastor, I had resigned myself to the role of pastor’s wife. But, I clearly told God in no uncertain terms, I will NOT sing and play the piano like the stereotypical pastor’s wife.
Guess what God was doing the whole time I was ranting?
The first church we pastored needed…you guessed it, a piano player and one more voice in the worship team. We are no longer at the same church and I am still playing the piano and singing. It is my honor to be a part of leading our congregation to worship.
As I continued my journey discovering how God wanted to use me, I have done many things and served in many capacities. The one thing I said I would not do is lead any kind of women’s ministry. Leading women, I told God, was neither my calling nor my passion.
By now I imagine tears were pouring from my Lord’s eyes, he was laughing so hard.
About March of this year our church began a Wednesday night Women’s Bible Study led by…who else? Recently I even organized a women’s retreat for our church with the help of some amazing ladies. To surround myself with these incredible women has changed me from the inside out. I, who have been an only child, have found sisters… and lots of them.
A few months ago I sat at a Starbucks with one of these sisters of mine discussing Isabel’s education. My friend and I were weighing the pros and cons of public education, private education, and homeschooling. She had homeschooled her two oldest daughters and is a big proponent. I told her I admired her and gave her the old: “more power to ya, sister” but informed her that homeschooling simply was not for me.
That time God had a laughing companion…
In true God-like subtlety he began to send my way sign after sign that I was speaking too soon. In typical Gaby-like stubbornness I began to fight him. Long story short, I’m homeschooling Isabel…at least this year. In hand-to-hand combat, God’s grace always prevails over my stubbornness. Thank you for that, Lord.
The dreams and desires God has for my life are not those he has for everyone’s life. Not everyone is called to become a teacher, a pastor’s wife, a women’s ministry leader, or a homeschooling mom. But he does say: "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9)
I don’t think I’m done saying “I will never” to him. It is in my nature to be hard-headed and it takes me a while to learn a lesson. I think God made me this way to assure a good laugh for himself every now and then. I don’t mind. And I don’t mind losing at this game. When He laughs, I know something life-changing is coming my way. Laugh away, Jesus, laugh away.