CONFIDENCE IN YOUR DESTINY
DECEMBER 30, 2007
WESLEY UNITED METHODIST CHUCH
“I know the Lord’s laid his hands on me,” we sang. Is the Lord leading you? Do you believe you have a destiny? Destiny has a ring to it, doesn’t it? As you look back on 2007, can you see destiny exerting its influence over you? Can you see a pattern working in and through all the events, working through your response to those events? Do you feel compelled, motivated, dominated by something bigger than yourself? Do you have confidence in your destiny?
Some university students were asked to state their most difficult personal problem. 75% listed “lack of confidence,” feelings of inferiority, doubt, inadequacy and insecurity. Some people are afraid—afraid to assert themselves; afraid to express opinions; afraid to ask for a raise; afraid to compete, feeling they are not as athletic, or as pretty, or as popular as others. They doubt their abilities. They mistrust their ability to handle responsibility, including responsibility for their own lives. They lack a belief in their own worth.
What is needed is a dose of destiny—a strong, powerful, motivating, compelling, sense of destiny.
In our Scripture lesson this morning, Paul writes of the plan God has for the creation, a plan which was fashioned even before the world was created. Paul is so captured by the wonder of God’s plan and his own destiny in that plan that the entire passage, Ephesians 1.3-14, is only one sentence in the original Greek text! Translators have much fun trying to interpret and translate a two-paragraph sentence. Paul is ecstatic about God’s plan. Even before the world began, God chose us to be his people. Verses 5 and 10, “God destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ…as a plan for the fullness of time.” Do you have confidence that God has a plan, a plan that will withstand setbacks, a plan that will not fail, a plan for the redemption of all there is? Do you have confidence that you have a significant role—a destiny—in the fulfillment of that plan?
God’s plan is to unite all creation, bring it together, including humanity, with Jesus Christ as head. You and I are created, placed on this earth at this time, to help carry out the plan, to serve God in the task of redemption. It is in doing God’s work that we find our significance. You have a destiny. Believing in your destiny can give you a sense of joy, peace, and confidence.
Now don’t confuse destiny with bad patterns. Some folks are caught in the web of bad patterns---self-made destinies that they have built by making poor choices. Some people have a crippling sense of martyrdom, believing if anything bad can happen, it will happen to them. Some folks think it is their destiny to fail. They continually set themselves up to fail and when they fail, they are again convinced that failure is their destiny. They repeat the predictable results over and over. The vicious repetitions convince them of their destiny to fail.
The good news is that Jesus can set you free from bad choices, can set you free from bad patterns, so that you may live out God’s destiny for you. I believe our lives have purpose. We can choose to follow our destiny, and make choices that are in accord with the destiny God has planned for us. When you make choices in accord with your true destiny, you then live out your destiny, and in the living out of your destiny, you experience, peace, courage and confidence.
Perhaps you can’t see your future destiny; but, can you see the hand of God in your life that has brought you to this day? Can you see how events of the past have conspired to bring you to where you are today? Last month, when we were celebrating Thanksgiving and remembering the pilgrims, I told the 11:30 congregation that, according to tradition, a twelve-year-old girl was the first person to step off the Mayflower on to Plymouth Rock. Her name was Mary Chilton and she is my ancestor. Her father, James Chilton, died on board the Mayflower before they landed, and her mother died a few months later. Mary was an orphan, but thank God, she was cared for, grew up, married and had children; or I wouldn’t be here. It is fascinating to look back and see how events conspired to bring us to today. When my two oldest granddaughters were in fifth grade here in San Jose, they told the story of Mary Chilton in speech contests. Adrienne began her speech by asking, “April showers bring May flowers; what do Mayflowers bring?” Her answer, “Mayflowers bring my ancestors.” She won the district contest! Her older sister, Alison, also went to the district speech contest and included the story of Mary Chilton. One of her classmates, a boy of Japanese ancestry, said to her, “I’m also descended from Mary Chilton’s father!” Evidently he has some ancestors who weren’t Japanese, or were there Japanese pilgrims? We are one world!
Is it farfetched to believe that God kept Mary Chilton alive, and guided generations so that I am able to be your pastor today? When I consider how God plans, I understand that I am expected to do something significant with my life. There are expectations for my sons and grandchildren. They are alive because of Mary Chilton and all her descendants. They are alive today to do something significant with their lives, to discover the destiny God has designed for them.
How about you? Look at your past. It is fascinating to consider how many doors opened for you at the right time and in the right place. It is revealing to reflect on the choices you made that have brought you to this day. Ask yourself why you are here. Consider how God worked through the years, how God blessed your ancestors to bring you to this day. Something significant is expected of you. There are reasons why you are alive. You have a destiny. If you have difficulty believing that you have a destiny, do you think your birth is an accident? Is it a matter of luck that you are who you are? Is it too farfetched to believe that God had and has a plan that includes you? I believe God has planned a destiny for you.
Something significant is expected of you. There are reasons why you are alive. You have a destiny. As you begin 2008, live in the confidence of your destiny. Decide to make choices in accordance with your destiny. Let Jesus lead you to make choices that will free you from poor choices and enslaving patterns, and put you in touch with the destiny God has planned. You can overcome bad choices. If you are afraid you've blown God's plan, don't worry. There is Plan B! God doesn't give up.
But, you must choose. God’s plan, God’s will for you, is not forced upon you. There is a plan, but you have to decide to accept the plan and make those choices that fulfill your destiny. It is not easy to make decisions. Some would rather postpone decisions and let life happen to them. But, not choosing is also a choice.
A woman decided to travel and went to a travel agent named Patrick Finnegan O'Riley. He suggested a safari to Africa.
“Oh, no,” she said. “I couldn’t stand the smell of animals, much less killing them.”
“Well, perhaps a trip to India and a visit to the shrines.”
“Oh, no,” she said. “India is full of diseases, I am told, and also Hindus. I really wouldn’t want to go there.”
“How about a trip to Ireland, to the old country?”
“Oh, no,” she answered. “I understand that Ireland is cold and damp and full of Catholics.”
To which, Patrick Finnegan O’Riley drew himself up and replied, “Well then, madam, how about going to hell: I understand it is hot, dry, and full of Protestants.”
Making decisions is not easy, and not deciding is to let someone else, someone like Patrick Finnegan O’Riley, decide where you should go.
As you make decisions, keep your eyes on Jesus; focus on Jesus and what Jesus would have you do. Be sensitive to his leading. You have a destiny, and Jesus will lead you.
Hear this message in one sentence: With confidence, choose to follow your destiny.