I Never Expected That to Happen

I was quite naïve that day I prayed to receive Christ as my Savior.

I was 18 years old, and unlike many of my friends who knew it all, I felt the weight of my ignorance. Major life decisions, hitchhiking on the backs of well-meaning friends and relatives, lurked around every corner waiting to pounce on me.

Where will you go to college? What course of study will you choose? How are you going to pay for it? Will you live at home or on campus? And what about that boyfriend? Is he the one you should marry?

I knew one thing. After eighteen years of living my life my way, I was doomed if left to my own wisdom. Or lack thereof. I looked good on the outside, but on the inside I was a school bus full of kids headed toward a railroad crossing.

“I don’t want to be in charge anymore,” I told my pastor that day in his study, tears streaming down my cheeks. “I need someone wiser than I to run my life.”

And then there was the matter of my sin. I hadn’t intended to talk about that. Our counseling appointment was supposed to be more of a self-help therapy session than a come-to-Jesus meeting, but somehow the conversation took a turn.

It was a no-brainer, really. I’d sat under enough sermons in my two years of faithful but disinterested church attendance to know that my life didn’t please God. Like a wart on the nose of a beauty queen, there was no hiding the ugliness. Thankfully God’s people had loved me anyway, by faith.

“God,” I prayed, “I surrender. I don’t want to run my life any more. I want you to be in charge.”

I prayed other things, too, on that glorious/horrible day. A blubbery confession of sin. An earnest repentance. A promise to obey whatever God told me to do. 

I naively gave no thought of the consequences of my action. I didn’t think to ask, “If I become a Christian, will I have to give up ________?”, because I hadn’t intended to become a Christian that day. I thought I was one.

Then the Holy Spirit opened my eyes. And my heart. And all of a sudden, he started changing me. First Corinthians 5:17 was happening without me even realizing it.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

My music and my bikini were the first to go. No one told me to get rid of them. I just knew. I broke off a relationship that didn’t please God. I made different choices about what I watched on TV and which movies I attended.

When I disobeyed the voice of the Holy Spirit, I felt bad. Which made me feel good, because it proved that something within me had changed. My new attitude toward sin proved that the Holy Spirit really had come to live inside me—just like the Bible said.

God was gently and patiently teaching me to avoid the bad and embrace the good. He was changing me so that instead of having to pry things out of my hand, I was willingly releasing what he knew wasn't best for me. 

God was changing my want to's.

That was many years ago, and the truth of Philippians 1:6 has continued its faithful march across my life.

“He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

More than 30 years later, I still struggle with wanting my way, but I have three decades of examples that God’s way is best. I’m thankful that he continues the good work he began in me.

What about you? Over the course of your Christian life, how have you seen God change your want to’s? Leave a comment below and share your story. If you’re reading by email, click here to visit Hungry for God online, scroll to the bottom of the post, and leave a comment.

If you live within driving distance of Brookville, PA, I’d love for you to join me for A Wardrobe for All Seasons—Dressing for Spiritual Success, a one-day women’s conference on Saturday, September 17. I’ll share 3 workshop sessions: “Stepping Out, How Our Footwear Impacts Our Faith,” “Clean Out That Closet,” and “A Hat for All Seasons—Serving God In Every Stage of Life.” 

Cost is $35, which includes lunch, a t-shirt, and a copy of my book, Hungry for God…Starving for Time. For more information and to register (discount registration deadline August 10), contact Kathy Shaffer at

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