On Destiny

Today’s reading: Mark 2

This post started as a personal journal entry. I was uncertain on posting it. My hope is that my decision to post it publicly will be profitable for someone out there. Please excuse any lack of ‘flow’ here this was primarily a working document to aid me in testing a feeling I felt prompted by scripture to test:

In my estimation, the world’s version of the feeling:

  • A longing for greatness
  • A longing to have ‘impact’

In my estimation, the Christians’ version of the feeling:

  • A longing to hear “Well done good and faithful servant.”
  • A longing to make the most of the life God has given me.

The dilemma for me has been, ‘which feeling is real?’ Is the Christian version simply a rationalization of the world’s? The Bible tells us that man has a hard time discerning their own heart or motives. (Proverbs 20:5, Psalm 139:23-24, Psalm 51:10) This is the scary part. Our love for the LORD leads us to want to work hard for Him, but it seems that the harder we work, the faster we go, the further off the path we can find ourselves at a moment’s notice. 

At the root of these feelings, the truth to me seems to lie in questions of destiny. When I read two simple words from today’s reading, a command from Christ, the answer seems so simple, the words of our Savior; “Follow me.” From Mark 2:14.

What follows are reflections on questions that have helped me test my heart by working through what I believe (what the Bible declares) and how it relates to the feelings listed above in the context of destiny.

High or low views of self?

A high view of self or one’s destiny, in my estimation is cause for alarm. The pride of life is a tool of Satan, a lie that if believed in our hearts can lead to all sorts of usurping and troubles. (1John 2:16, Proverbs 4:23) Still a low view self or one’s destiny is also cause for alarm in my estimation, for this would lead to another set of lies. Believing one has no greatness in them leads to sloth, hopelessness and self indulgence.

What is the proper view of of self?

The proper view of self seems simple to find on its own. God created man, therefore God defines man. God defines each self. The proper view of self is then in Christ and His tidings of goodwill toward man. In other words, the proper view of self is defined in the good news.

How do these longings of destiny relate to the proper view of self?

It seems that these longings in destiny are righteous in Christ. Whereas the lies  in destiny are laid up in self without Christ. Put another way, the world’s definition of greatness is far different from Christ’s (Matthew 18:1-5). Usurping should be replaced with responding in love. Positioning replaced with being positioned by the Holy Ghost. Striving for greatness in the world replaced with striving for greatness in heaven. A proper view of self is that we are great, strong and rich in Christ but lowly, weak and destitute in self without Christ.

How can I maintain the proper view of self in relation to destiny? 

The image below is what formed in my mind from a line in C.S Lewis’ Mere Christianity,

“For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity.” – C.S. Lewis

In my estimation, maintaining the proper view of self requires discernment of truth in God’s definition of self. One of the many schemes of the Devil seems to be wrapped up in man’s view of destiny of self; having one believe they hold the Christian view of destiny, yet maintaining the world’s. In this state, a consistent fear and worry about how the past will affect the future or how this or that in the future will keep one from their destiny seems to persist and distract from what one should be doing now to affect eternity.  

I have been taught that often when I am anxious or worried about projects I am working on it is likely because I have not committed them to the LORD. That I am being prideful and working for my own selfish interests. 

Destiny, when considered through this perspective of where time touches eternity, is more of a state of present abiding in Christ rather than a future uncertain state to be won. Our destiny is in Christ and has been won. We experience our destiny by abiding in Christ now.

The more I consider what opportunities from God lay before the present, the more I become obsessed with souls. The more I trust in the LORD, the more I focus on others and their eternity and let the rest go where it will. The more I stay focused on now, and how what I am doing now affects other’s eternities, the more peace I receive in my destiny and impact for Christ. 

O that I might abide in God and go in peace. Praise God that He makes righteous those who believe in Him! (Romans 10:10)

Painting: Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way by Emanuel Leutze

How is your walk with the LORD?

 

I hear people asking each other, “How is your walk with the LORD?” I love when this is how we inquire of each other’s well being! Our pastor Mike Baker at Eastview likens our journey to a marathon as does another Pastor you probably know (1Corinthians 9:24). The key thing here in my estimation is the ‘with’ part. We do not try walk and run to win on our own. As we go we have a Companion, a Comforter, a Helper, who strengthens us (Ephesians 3:16). Today’s reading in Mark 9 had me thinking a lot about walking with Christ.In yesterday’s reading Mr. LaFrance asked several great questions. One that stood out to me, “Do I act in a way that I would in the presence of the Lord?” This led me to think on several other questions. What would walking with the LORD be like? How would I respond (Mark 9:5)? Would I know what to do (Mark 9:6)?  Would I walk with the LORD or would do my own thing and turn away? God says he is with us (John 14:16, John 14:26) so this is all still relevant today, but what does this all mean to me today? Immediately I began to recall several things.  

Grieving the Spirit. I once heard of a phrase called “grieving the Spirit.” Basically, my understanding is that it is when our thoughts, words and deeds choose and amplify self, we can push the Helper away and we enter into a state of helplessness.

The Fruit of the Spirit. We had a guest preacher at Eastview who helped me understand the proper response to the realization that I had grieved the Spirit. When I had realized that my thoughts, word or deeds had not been in love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, or temperance, what should I do? I took away a powerful truth from his sermon, I AM the Vine:

“It is the fruit of the Spirit, It is not the fruit of anything you.”

The idea here is simple. If you realize that your thoughts were not longsuffering it is not a matter of getting better at longsuffering. “Mike you need to get better and be more longsuffering” is not the proper response. Instead, in truth, it is a matter of abiding in Christ. Getting closer to Him. He produces the longsuffering. It is the fruit of the Spirit, not of me. Praise God for helping us with this burden (Matthew 11:30)! I can not imagine if it were up to me to get better at all these things.

Running to the cross. I once heard a sermon about what the deceiver wants when we realize our sin. The preacher said the deceiver wants us to feel shame that keeps us separate from God. Like in the garden of Eden he wants us to hide and distance ourselves from God. Actually, the answer and the truth is the opposite. Run to the cross! Run to God! Do everything and anything to get closer to God! Praise God that He bore our iniquities (Isaiah 53:4-5)! Praise God that He invites us to Him. Praise God that He loves us even though we are sinners (Romans 5:8)! Praise God His love is unconditional!

Abiding in Christ. I was in a small group setting once where a friend had a whiteboard and in the middle he wrote the word “God” and drew a circle around it. Then he started asking the group “How can we get closer to God?” The group responded one after another as we started to brainstorm. One person replied, “Reading the Bible.” “Good!” he replied and wrote down, ‘Reading the Bible’ circled it and drew a line to God. Another, responded “Listening to Christian radio”, another “Praying”, each time he wrote down the response circled them and drew a line to God. One after another the group responded and eventually there was a web of thoughts, words, and deeds that helped us abide in Christ:

  • Reading the Bible
  • Listening to Christian radio
  • Listening to the Bible
  • Listening to a sermon
  • Praying with others
  • Praying for others
  • Thinking positive thoughts
  • Encouraging people
  • Being thankful
  • Going last
  • Loving people

Extra Credit

  1. Bring a blank piece of paper to the dinner table and write out God in the middle and circle it.
  2. Ask your family, “How can we get closer to God?” If it helps ask specific questions like “What can we (think/say/do) to get closer to God?” 
  3. Write down everyone’s responses, circling them and drawing a line back to God.
  4. Put it on your fridge.

Extra, Extra Credit

  1. Snap a picture of the drawing, post it on facebook and tag BibleJournal
  2. Consider also the principle of replacement. What are daily habits we have that we can replace to get closer to God? i.e. replacing watching TV with reading the Bible or replacing talk radio with listening to a sermon, etc. Pull it off the fridge and consider this with your family. Check in a few weeks back and ask each other how it is going.

Originally published on BibleJournal.net from July 27th, 2016’s reading: Judges 10–11:11; Acts 14; Jeremiah 23; Mark 9