University Congregational Church
Aug. 16, 2015
“Destiny & Purpose”
Joshua 1:9; Jeremiah 6:16
Have you ever marveled at being human? Our bodies are miraculous…
- We have opposing thumbs so that we can grasp things
- Our immune systems are built to heal our illnesses automatically
- The average human heart pumps over 1,000 gallons a day
- The lungs contain 1,000 miles of capillaries.
- The human body contains enough DNA that if it were stretched out, it would circle the sun 260 times.
- The body uses energy efficiently. If an average adult rides a bike for 1 hour at 10 mph, it uses the amount of energy contained in 3 ounces of carbohydrate. If a car were this efficient with gasoline, it would get 900 miles to the gallon. D John Medina, genetic engineer, University of Washington
But it’s not just the physical body that is amazing – we have the astonishing “capacity to see and hear and feel, and then to think about all this incredible reality, and then form judgments about it all and know right and wrong and good and bad and beautiful and ugly, and then to feel profound emotions of love and hate and joy and discouragement and wonder and hope and gratitude, and then to reason and plan our lives in ways that accomplish things.” Desiringgod.org
Today we are considering human destiny and purpose. Who are you? How did you get that identity? What are you here for? Only humans ask these questions. Only humans kill themselves and kill others when they don’t get true and satisfying answers to these questions.
As people of faith, we know that our identity is not about our color or culture. When we hear the creation stories over and over again, we realize that they are not scientific or historical documents. They are stories told for a deeper truth ~ and that truth is that we are made in the image of the Divine. We are blessed by the Creator. We belong simply because we are. Our identity as humans is one of belonging… we belong to God… we belong to the earth… we belong to each other. That’s who we are. We are related and inter-related.
As people of faith, we believe that when we make mistakes, we are forgiven, accepted and loved. We believe in mercy and kindness. We are graced by our Maker. In every other interaction, we judge and are judged. That is the world we live in.
“He is lazy.”
“She is fat.”
“I don’t like his hair.”
“She is not very smart.”
“He needs some personal life coaching.”
“They just aren’t any fun.”
We spend our days comparing ourselves to others and finding fault with ourselves and others. But in the world of faith, all are forgiven, accepted and loved. And we are so grateful to receive the constant love and mercy from God that we can’t wait to share it with others! That’s what we believe. We are graced and we are loved.
You were given a unique mixture of spiritual gifts, passions, abilities, personality, and experiences. There is no one like you in the entire universe because, in part, there’s no one with your unique mix of talents. (even if you are twins, you find uniqueness). That’s why the destiny for each of us is so unique.
Here’s the painful part: we can miss the destiny for which we are destined. People do it regularly. In fact, a person can go through his/her entire life and miss life’s purpose… often by poor choices made. If I got drunk, fell in a pool, and drowned, I would not be filling my destiny. But most of the choices we make are not as fatal or final. Still, our destiny and our purpose sometimes get side-tracked by poor choices.
Another way our purpose and destiny can get de-railed is when we simply go through the motions of life – existing day by day. We can allow our imaginations to be dormant; our mind to be numb; our bodies to control us. We can get weighed down by the emptiness of a life without meaning.
Yet another way we can lose track of our destiny and purpose is to measure success by what we have done as compared to what someone else has done. This is a very dangerous trap – comparing our lives with others. We can always find someone more successful and someone who is floundering. If we allow ourselves to be distracted by someone else’s accomplishments or failures, we end up losing our own way.
Our destiny and life purpose is not found by looking at others. It is found in looking deeply at self and soul. Joshua 1:9 says it plainly: “I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Purpose and meaning are found through courage and through the knowledge that we are part of something much bigger than ourselves. The Biblical understanding of human self-identity is radically God-centered. We cannot talk about our identities without talking about the action of God within us.
This summer, I had a back and forth email exchange with a couple from our church. They were vacationing in Colorado and had several very special experiences through what seemed as happenstance. Yet, when all was said and done, they realized that the universe or God or some greater good prevailed for these random incidents to come together for a purpose. Here is a portion of what was written to me…
“Today, we decided to hike to Green Lake, an easy 1.7 mile hike on the map. We went to Crested Butte, couldn’t find the trail, asked, and got on the right trail. We went up the steep trail for hours and came to a sign that we thought said Green Lake, 0.4 miles. We went up for another 45 minutes, and saw the mountaintop in the distance. I thought, ‘Huh, a green lake in the mountains is usually above the timberline but I can never make it up there!’ We hike up another 45 minutes – all uphill. I was thinking that I was beat and was really worried that I couldn’t make it. I was tired, and didn’t want us to get hurt, and it was looking stormy.
While I was thinking to myself, not thinking anyone was listening, I thought, ‘I don’t know if we can do this! I know this is not an important matter and not a right or wrong but please give me a sign if we should go up or turn around!’
We met very few on the trail but I no more thought that and we heard voices. It was a couple coming down and when we asked how far, he looked at the app on his phone ‘only ¾ of a mile, you have several more switchbacks but it levels out, the trees clear and the second lake is Green Lake.’
I took this, by surprise, as my sign to go on and we did hike another 45 minutes before coming to the lake that hours before I thought we couldn’t get to. We stayed a short time and left as the rain began to fall and left the pond above the timberline when we heard a thunderclap. I turned on the tracking app on my phone and went down. Thankfully, it was much easier. It was not .4 mile to the sign but 2.5 miles and a total of 5.5 miles to the car from the lake.” Here is his summary ~
- “If we had known it was an 11 mile hike and not a 3.4, we would never have gone.
- If I had turned on my app and known we had gone 3 miles to the sign, we would have turned around.
- If we had known it was another 2.5 miles to the lake and not .4, we would have turned around.
- If I knew the lake was at the spot where I looked up and thought NO WAY, I would have gone down.
- If we had not met that couple, we would have turned around.
- The path that God had for me is probably not the one I would choose.
- The goal that God has for me is greater than the goal I would have.
- I can’t go through life alone.”
Our lives are not accidents – we have purpose and a destiny. Jeremiah 6:16 tells us:
“Thus says the Lord:
Stand at the crossroads, and look,
and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way lies; and walk in it,
and find rest for your souls.“
A few weeks ago, Anna Mills gave this quote to me. The author is Eugene Bell Jr. It really wraps up our thoughts today on destiny and purpose: “Aspire to Inspire, before you Expire.”