By Rev. Dr. J. Patrick Bowman
Are we as Christians sometimes confused about the difference between our destination and our destiny? Can we end up at one without realizing the other? To answer these questions, let’s first define what both destination and destiny are and then look at the Scriptures for further clarification.
Destination is “the place to which somebody or something is going or must go, or, a purpose for which somebody or something is intended.” In this two-sided definition of destination, the place and the purpose are the end result of the going and the intention. Synonyms for destination include purpose, end, target, aim, goal, objective, and intention. The destination seems, in this sense, to be one that can be set by the one going or intending.
Destiny is a bit more complicated. By definition, destiny is “the apparently predetermined and inevitable series of events that happen to somebody or something, or, the inner purpose of a life that can be discovered and realized, or, a force or agency that predetermines what will happen.”
In this three-sided definition of destiny, a series of events or a discoverable and realized inner purpose of life comes about by an apparently predetermined inevitability set in motion by a force or agency. Synonyms for destiny include fate, fortune, lot, luck, providence, vocation, and future. Destiny seems, in this sense, to be outside the control of somebody (or something), although it can be discovered and realized.
If we look at Scripture, we see that destination often determines destiny. What I mean by that is destination is often the seedbed where destiny is planted. Joseph’s original destination and purpose was to check on his brothers for his father. His brothers redirected his destination to Egypt where he discovered and realized his destiny. Moses set off to hide in the desert after killing the Egyptian and forty years later found his destiny at a burning bush. Naomi purposed to return to Israel after her husband and sons died and Ruth traveled with her and they both found their destinies.
In these examples, none of the persons mentioned were aware of how important
their destinations were to their destinies. And also notice that the destination of each had its challenges before the destiny became apparent. Destiny seldom comes as a welcoming committee at our arrival. Sometimes it takes years and seasons of life before it makes an appearance to us and asks us to acknowledge it.
Where do you find yourself today? Are you facing challenges in your present “destination”? I ask that question of you because I am also asking it of me. Sometimes we may feel God leading us to move on. That does legitimately happen by the Spirit’s direction. There are, however, many times when we take self-directed initiative because we’re uncomfortable.
Don’t be too quick to think a change of destination will hasten your destiny. Waiting can be hard, especially when we’re expecting to see the fruit of labor but have yet to see a blossom of promise on our tree. If we are seeking to change our destination in order to rid ourselves of seemingly negative circumstances, the circumstances may very well be the seedbed where our destiny is planted.
Just because that seed is currently out of sight does not mean it isn’t under the surface incubating, waiting for the warmth of God’s “fullness of time” to bring forth the sprouting. We look at the soil and lament about its condition. Yes, we may have natural discernment as to the soil’s condition, but only God has the spiritual discernment to its ultimate use to birth our destiny.
Our ultimate destiny is to be conformed to the image of God’s own Son. That begins to happen and can be fully realized, in the less than ideal circumstances we now find ourselves. The stress, circumstances, persecution, and tribulation of this life are the seedbeds where our destiny as the manifested sons of God is planted.
When Jesus came as Immanuel, He planted himself in some pretty hard soil. But He also found His destiny in that destination and because He did it first and calls us to follow, made the way for us to sprout and grow and produce in the hard places we live in. This earth wasn’t Jesus’ final destination and it isn’t ours either.
We know our final destination is heaven and yes, we can go there without realizing our ultimate destiny here. But if we seek the final destination without regard for the destiny that resides in our current destination, we fall short of the following Jesus has called us to and fall short of God’s will for us.
In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed and asked if there be another way. Could His sojourn to this destination come without the destiny that was awaiting Him? In praying that God’s will be done, He got His answer. What are we praying for? As believers who already know our final destination, our attention should be turned to asking God to reveal in us that which can serve the world we live in. Let us pray for transformation that brings conformity that brings confirmation to this hard world of the life of Christ working in us and through us for His glory.