What If—These Are the Days of Your Destiny?

Man in Alley - FREE

   Are you bored? Lonely? Frustrated? Do these days seem like a repeat of the movie Groundhog Day in which each day was a rerun of the one before? Every. Single. Day. Yes? Then let’s play “What If?” 

   What if these unprecedented days in history are the prelude to your destiny? What if God is doing something in the midst of this agonizing isolation which, if you can perceive it, will launch you into the very purpose for which you were born? What if these days are opportunities—if we take them.

   We all want to fulfill our destinies, to do that thing we were born to do. The thing is, we often don’t realize what we’re asking. Do we really comprehend that destiny-chasing is going to involve a prep time—probably long, most likely painful, and definitely lonely? We’re required to “learn the ropes,” “do the grind,” “burn the midnight oil,” and “stay the course”—often in the midst of confusion, fear, fatigue, disappointment, isolation and even pain. Now, are we still willing to sign on to fulfill that mission in life?

   You know what they say: “The greater the destiny, the longer the prep time.” 

Training  

   There is no job or ministry which doesn’t involve some type of training, whether it’s a formal post-secondary ed program, an internship, or simply a period of “working your way up” the ladder to more responsibility. But what if all of that takes time? 

   Joseph (Jacob’s son) spent years as a slave in Potiphar’s house in Egypt. Little did he know that he, a Hebrew, was being trained by God in Egyptian culture, language, and customs as well as in how to manage a large household (think business) and how to conduct himself around Egyptian nobility. But then it got worse. Joseph was sent to prison for years after being falsely accused of attempted rape. And what was the point of that little time-out? He learned how the “other half” lived: the working class, the poor, and the helpless. He encouraged them, supervised them, and set an example for them. All of these “chance” misfortunes were really God’s way of preparing Joseph to assist Pharaoh in leading and managing the economics of the most powerful nation in the world—a nation he previously knew nothing about. 

What if God’s training doesn’t always take place in a classroom? What if you’re in God’s classroom right now…?

Trust

   What calling doesn’t involve developing a solid and grounded understanding of who God is, a revelation of our identity in Him, a trust in Him that can’t be shaken, and a faith to move mountains?

   David, before he was king, spent sixteen years running from King Saul who wanted to kill him. And what had David done? Nothing. King Saul was simply jealous of God’s call upon David’s life. So David spent years running for his life and hiding in caves. He was often hungry, scared, and lonely.

   Nevertheless, he learned what we all need to learn in order to fulfill our destinies: an unequivocal and unshakable faith in God—no matter what. No matter that, every day, his life was in danger. No matter that he had powerful enemies, besides Saul. No matter that he was responsible for the care, feeding and safety of hundreds of warriors and their families. No matter what, David learned unwavering faithfulness, steadfastness, and trust in God.

What if, right now, you’re learning to trust God in the midst of circumstances that are frightening—even terrifying?

Character-building

   And what calling doesn’t involve everyone’s favorite: developing character and integrity? We can (and will) spend years while God “skims the dross” of our moral character until the gold shines through. Why? Because those who chase their destinies without concern for the quality of their morals, values, and principles first will end up hurting others. That’s not even a question.

   Moses endured forty years of character-building on the backside of the desert after murdering a Hebrew and fleeing for his life. He’d been raised in Pharaoh’s own household with all of the advantages which that brought with it and probably (I’m speculating) had a pretty healthy estimate of himself by his 40th birthday. From 40 to 80, he ended up tending sheep—probably not what he had envisioned himself doing; he ended up married to a shepherd girl—a far cry from the Egyptian princess he probably would have married; and he ended up leading a nation of poor, fugitive slaves—probably not the sophisticated and cultured nation he had intended to lead. But in the end, the Bible says that Moses was the humblest man who ever lived.

   What if you’re in the midst of people or circumstances which make you want to break something or hurt somebody? You might be. But learning not to is character-building.

The problem is that if we don’t know that God will spend whatever time it takes training us for our destinies before launching us into them, we can fall prey to some very destructive mindsets which can  derail us in the end.

Mindset #1: “I made a mistake—if I were supposed to be doing this thing, it wouldn’t be so hard or take so long.”

   Not true. Building knowledge of our work, trust in our God, and developing of our character takes time. Period. Whether something is easy or not is not the compass as to whether it’s God’s will for our lives. Ask David.

Mindset #2: If I were supposed to be doing this thing, there wouldn’t be so much spiritual warfare.

   Wrong. Maybe. Sometimes what we attribute to “the devil attacking” is really not. Sometimes things go wrong because we’ve violated a Biblical principle about how to do that thing. Sometimes it might be that other people are simply misbehaving and their behavior affects us. Sometimes it might be that we simply live in a fallen world and things go wrong. However, that said, it might be an enemy attack. If so, that is still not an indicator that you’re not supposed to be doing what you believe you were called to do. 

Mindset #3: If I were supposed to be doing this thing, I’d be better at it or more talented.

   Probably not. God loves to take the weak, the uneducated, the not talented (in that area) and raise them up to do what, for them, would be impossible in the natural. For example, how many stories have I heard through the years about people who were terrified to speak in public—and God made them preachers? Or people who hate to write—and God had them write a book?  Et cetera… And why does God do it this way? So that He gets the glory for what we do, not ourselves nor our natural talents. Message? If you can’t do that thing, don’t assume God won’t prepare you to do that thing.

   Bottom line: If it’s a desire of your heart, no matter how impossible or difficult it seems, it’s because God put that desire there and wants you to fulfill that destiny.

   And what if you do…?

 

  

Free Stuff vs. Freedom

Statue of Liberty

   The following is a disclaimer—I’m not trying to start a fight. Nevertheless, I do have an important observation to make and I’ll preface that by saying this: I believe this country will return to normal by the fall. I believe schools will re-open, stadiums will be packed, and stores of every make and model will return to business as usual. I even believe the Dow index on the stock market will, once again, reach the near-30k mark. There. However, here’s what I believe as well:

   If this little pandemic crisis has taught us anything, it’s the difference in lifestyle between a democracy and a socialist/communist regime.

An Objective Perspective

   Am I trying to start trouble? No. The trouble’s already begun. However, it didn’t begin with this pandemic. Rather, it began at some nebulous point in time when some citizens of the United States began to think that “democratic socialism” is even a thing and/or that “socialism” is a better way of life than a democratic republic.

   To believe that is to demonstrate a lack of understanding regarding the meaning of either one of those terms. And here’s how I know… “democratic socialism” is an oxymoron. The two concepts are diametrically opposed to one another. In other words, the terms are polar opposites—it’s very much like saying that a person is an “honest liar”.

   As a teacher trying to help students to comprehend the meaning of The U.S. Constitution and the archaic language of The Bill of Rights, I have to say—what I’m seeing today is eerily similar to what our forefathers so fervently tried to avoid in penning those documents. I find that what we’re experiencing right now—the government-mandated lockdown of our nation with all of its restrictions and prohibitions of our rights and freedoms—is a very explicit picture of what it would be like to live under an authoritarian government.

Free Stuff vs. Freedom

   Have we received any “free money” lately? Yes. Just this week, a very heartwarming $1200 per adult has magically appeared in bank accounts from sea to shining sea. The problem is, I’m not hearing the Halleluiah Chorus ringing across the fruited plain. On the contrary, I’m hearing protests rage from one end of the web to the other in articles, posts, livestreams, and podcasts as people demand to get back to work.

   But—why?

   With socialism, that’s not supposed to happen. Government-provided free money, loans and guarantees of future freebies are supposed to compensate for the trade-off: Our freedoms to roam wherever we’d like, to worship as we please, and to “pursue happiness” (short of a felony) are all forfeited for “free stuff”. However, I can’t quite comprehend why people aren’t excited about that—especially those who would vote for “democratic socialism” given the chance. Granted, many of those are young people who perhaps don’t fully comprehend the (vast) differences between democracy and socialism, but then again, that’s why we try to teach it. However, somehow the lesson isn’t translating…

“The Lesson”

   So… maybe this is the lesson—this real-life, can’t-escape-it, nightmare experiment in socialistic communism where the government behaves much like a parent: “I provide for you, so I tell you what to do and you do it.” Period.  Or, to put it another way—“I pay the bills, I make the rules.”

   Here’s the bottom line: It’s an either-or. Either we earn our own living and therefore get to protect and enjoy our freedoms OR we let the government pay for everything and our freedoms are eroded and destroyed.

There is no scenario in which the government pays for everything and our freedoms are protected. The very act of becoming dependent means we must forfeit our independence in order to be provided for.

   And that, ladies and gentlemen, is that.

   For those of us who get it, who can see that what we’re living now is a delectable little taste of future socialistic recipes to come, it’s time to point out the obvious: We’re living the socialistic dream.

   The question is—do we want to wake up?

 

 

This Cat 5 Move of God

Tornado over sea.    The most frustrating thing about receiving a revelation from the Lord is being able to communicate it so that it impacts others as it did you. But I’ll try.

   This morning, I was just sitting and listening because I like the quiet, that sense of being in the eye of the hurricane, regardless of what’s swirling around inside or outside. And that’s when it hit me: Right now, God is doing something big. In this moment, he’s doing something in this world and in this nation that we cannot possibly comprehend because our idea of him “doing something” would not look like this; it wouldn’t involve a deadly virus or a screeching halt to our economy or millions out of work. But it does.

One little question kept buzzing through my head: “Do you really think I’d let this happen for no reason whatsoever?”

   In that moment, I was engulfed with—and this is the part that’s hard to communicate—an overpowering awareness of God’s purpose in all of this. I had this overwhelming sense that there was something happening behind the scenes of mankind that no human being can fathom because no human being really has a grasp on what’s occurring everywhere, all at once, in both the natural and spiritual realms. But once it’s all over, what was happening behind the scenes will be revealed and everything that’s happening now will make sense then.

   The other sense I had was that there are some people who are expecting a particular outcome in this situation but, in the end, what they’re expecting won’t be what happens.

   Do I know what’s going to happen? No. As I said, I don’t believe anyone really does. Different people have bits and pieces by revelation but I don’t believe anyone yet has all of the puzzle pieces. And a puzzle it is.

However, I do know that good will come from this.

   Granted, it isn’t easy and there is difficulty and hardship and heartbreak and I’m not, in any way, discounting that. However—at least in my life—it has helped to know that in the times when I’ve experienced loss and heartache, there has been a purpose to it.

   This is a fact: There is no circumstance in which God will suddenly find himself the victim of an unforeseen “checkmate.” There is nothing that he doesn’t know and no situation that he can’t redeem, no matter how dead it might look. Jesus had to be unequivocally and irrevocably declared “dead” before anyone would ever believe he was raised, and that holds true in any similar circumstance. Only in a very real death can there truly be a genuine and credible resurrection.

   One thing I know: At this very moment, God is doing something in this world and in this nation—and nothing will ever be the same again.

 

God Is Always Watching.

gods-eye-nasa
“God’s Eye In the Sky” (NASA photo)

   Click. The backdoor lock sprang and the doorknob turned. Flashlight off, the intruder paused, listening for the piercing scream of an alarm and hearing none, nudged the door open a tiny crack. In slow motion, he peered around the edge of the door and then crept forward, a stealthy shadow, into the house.

   “Jesus is watching.”

   The man froze in mid-step, bulging eyes straining to distinguish the source of the soft, croaky voice floating from the thick darkness.

   “Jesus is watching.”

   The burglar drew in a sharp breath and sighed in relief.

   It’s just a bird! A stupid, idiotic bird!

   The man clicked on his flashlight and aimed it in the direction of the voice.

“Birdie,” he whispered, “it’s hunting season.”

    His light beam danced around the room and then stopped, catching the reflection of a pair of red, glowing eyes and a set of very white bared fangs.

   The voice croaked again. “Meet Jesus.”

God Sees.

   God is always watching. Whether that thought brings any comfort or not is another story entirely. But it should. The knowledge that when things go from wrong to very wrong, from a  small mishap or a disappointed expectation to a long-term heartache or a sudden tragedy, God is aware.

   “‘I have seen the anguish of my people in Egypt and have heard their cries [and] I have come down to deliver them . . . for I know their sorrows’” (Acts 7:34, LB; Exodus 3:7, NKJV).

   If you remember, the Israelites suffered as slaves under the cruel oppression of the Egyptians for 400 long years. And in all that time, God was silent.

   But God was watching.

   God witnessed every whipping, every beating, every deprivation, every shameful violation, and every degrading humiliation wrought upon the Israelites by their slave masters. God heard every mournful, wailing prayer, every desperate, sobbing plea for help, and every heart-splintering scream for deliverance as His children begged to be freed from the vicious brutality of the Egyptians. He also listened as the Israelites shouted at, bargained with, cussed out, and  even forsook Him for other gods because of His silence. For silent God was—for centuries.

But Why?

   God does nothing arbitrarily. God had a plan for the birth of a new nation, a people of His own to proclaim His name throughout the whole world. But before that could happen, that  people suffered slavery for 400 years at the hands of the most powerful gods known to man at that time. Nevertheless, throughout all of those  excruciating years, God never missed a single moment of the suffering of His people; He saw it all—the shredded flesh, the indelible scars, and the tears as numerous as the grains of sand upon the earth.

   Perhaps, in the midst of the pursuit of the destiny that you were 1000% certain God had called you to, things have gone terribly, terribly wrong. Maybe you struggle to find the strength to make it through just one more day. Or perhaps circumstances in life—your hopes and dreams—have simply not happened the way you’d hoped they would happen and every day you feel that you’re sinking deeper and deeper into the dark and formless void of hopelessness and nothingness.

   Maybe you’ve ceased to dream at all.

In the Desert of Hopelessness

   That’s how the Israelites felt. And my guess is that’s precisely how Moses felt after squandering  his identity as an exalted Egyptian prince and ending up instead a forgotten fugitive on the backside of the desert with nothing to his name except the rags on his back and a crooked staff in his hand.

   Even so, God never relinquished His watch over the Israelites nor over Moses; night after night, year after year, decade after decade, He never failed to see. And in the end, God delivered His people in a way far more miraculous than they could ever have  imagined and, in doing so, proved Himself to be the God above every other god on earth.

   If you’re in that place, that desert where dreams die and only hopelessness reigns, then hold to the truth that, in order to rise from the ashes, we must first walk through the fire. And should you find yourself in the flames, don’t lose sight of one thing: It’s all part of the plan. Nothing can happen or is happening that God does not see.

   Our God is the god of the Resurrection—and He’s watching over you.