FAITH AND REFLECTION — Seventeen years ago, we picked up our son at Prairie Bible College and simply for variety, we decided to drive through Stettler on the way home. Our plan was to go through Stettler and pick up the 56 north and then on home to Killam. I failed to turn left onto the 56 and ended up taking a scenic tour of Stettler’s east industrial area instead. It didn’t take very long to backtrack and get heading north, but I remember saying, “I’ll never come through Stettler again.” Well, we’ve lived in Stettler happily, for 12 years now, so as the adage goes, “Never say never!”
The word “never” is simple enough in and of itself. According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary it means “not ever” or “not in any degree.” And while the word never may be used in a totally innocuous fashion, there are some reasons why we should be careful about making statements with never employed in any conclusive sense.
First, we cannot predict with any certainty what the future holds. We are all works in progress and we are changing our minds and our perspectives on a rather regular basis. So, saying never may place us in an embarrassing situation where we have to reverse what we’ve said.
There is another reason. Some psychologists suggest that our subconscious doesn’t work well with negations. In fact, the theory is that to state emphatically that we would never, is an indication that we will. If we should try not to think of a house, guess what is on our mind – a house! How about this one? “I will never smoke again!” A biblical example of this is found in Matthew 26:33 when Peter told Jesus, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you.” Peter did desert Jesus and then went on to deny Him three times!
There are some things that we should never think, say or do, and it’s all right to, with God’s help, to never involve ourselves in these. But in the areas of our lives that are changing and present options, saying never is like placing a shackle upon ourselves that we may have to hacksaw off later. And that can be both painful and embarrassing.
Jesus said never … more than once (His saying never is different than ours … . He never has to retract, recalibrate or recant). Let me share two of Jesus’ “nevers.” The first is frightening. Referring to those who claimed to know Him, Jesus responded saying, “I never knew you. Depart from me.” (Matthew 7:23)
The second is fantastic! It is found in Hebrews 13:5 and says “I will never leave you, or abandon you.”
Never say never, for never is a very long time!