Category Archives: Mysteries

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…?

 

  

The CoronaVirus: What the Enemy Meant for Evil

Corona Eclipse

   Whatever else you think about the Coronavirus pandemic, we can all agree on one thing: It’s unprecedented in our lifetimes. Never before, even during the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic, has society virtually shut down. So… what does it all mean? There must be meaning somewhere, right? For Christians, yes. We worship a God who is in control, and we know that he uses all things for his purposes—all things.

Now please understand: I’m NOT saying God caused this virus; what I am saying is that he can use it.

   There’s an often-quoted truth among Christians: “What the enemy means for evil, God uses for good.” The thing is—we drive ourselves silly trying to figure out what good can possibly come from some hard circumstances. And while I don’t claim to know that, I do know one thing: When God is moving in our lives, he often does it in some very unusual ways.

God Does the UNEXPECTED.

   True story. God will sometimes (often?) use unexpected circumstances or people to do those things that he wants to accomplish in our lives. The bottom line is this: We don’t naturally expect good things to happen as a result of bad things. Why? Because in the natural realm, things don’t work that way.

   But God doesn’t do things the natural way.

   God has his own way of doing things. Let’s rehash a few painful circumstances that he had in mind, from the beginning, for good. 

Slavery.

   Joseph was sold into slavery and that can’t be good. But what happened? He became second in command of Egypt to provide for God’s people during an historic famine. But why did there have to be a famine? So that Jacob and his family would come to Egypt. But why did they have to come to Egypt? Because they were unprotected. Since Jacob’s family wasn’t big enough to withstand attacks and assimilation by other nations, they needed to be under the protection of a superpower. That would be Egypt. But why did they have to suffer slavery? If they hadn’t been slaves, the Egyptians would’ve wanted to intermarry with them and the Jewish race would, again, have been swallowed up by another culture. All of those things—the famine, the migration, the slavery—were painful circumstances, but when God finally led the Israelites out of Egypt, there were at least a million of them—strong enough to survive as a nation. The “tragedy” of Egypt was like an incubation period for the Jewish race. God wrought good from evil.

Crucifixion.

   Christ died a brutal and torturous death on a cross. And as Christians, we know now why he did it and how that worked out, but the people of his time didn’t know, didn’t understand, and they were heartbroken. But then they received the revelation that “without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin.” Jesus, they came to realize, was the Lamb of God—but they couldn’t see that at the time.

What painful thing might God be using right now to accomplish some greater purpose in your life—and you just can’t see it yet?

Coronavirus.

   So… what’s the good in this whole COVID-19 thing? People are sick and dying, after all, and many are out of work. Yes, that’s true and not to be dismissed, so can there be any good in this? Let’s consider:

  • People are spending more time with their families. Granted, they have to but, given what our culture has become, would that ever happen any other way?
  • People are being asked to consider what others might need, to care for others, and to begin to think in terms of “others first”. That wasn’t a big priority before this virus hit.
  • People are thinking more about God. Why? Because, perhaps for the first time, people are turning to him for protection and provision—and in this culture, many people have never had to do that before.
  • People have “alone time” and things are slowing down. If we learn to rest, to read—even the art of face-to-face communication, that can only be a good thing.
  • People are learning other things, too—to cook for example. My niece has started a FB page called Cooking from Home—check it out.
  • Parents are homeschooling their children. This means that many parents who have never been involved in their children’s education before are now immersed in it; they’re helping with homework, instilling discipline, and even doing the teaching. Bottom line: Kids are seeing that their parents value education.

   There’s much that we’ll never understand about how or why God chooses to do what he does but that’s where faith comes in. If we believe that God loves us, then we choose to believe that “All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). We may not see the good, we not understand the pain, but we believe there is purpose because we know that God is good.

   No matter what.